The government has paid more than $170,000 to external consultants to address complaints of bullying and inappropriate behaviour at the Australian Sports Commission.
Sports Minister Kate Lundy has confirmed that nine complaints of bullying, harassment and unacceptable communication style at the commission had been lodged since January 2010.
The complaints were upheld in almost all cases, leading to sanctions that included formal warnings, a fine, a suspension and a sacking. Two external consultants dealt with five of the complaints, costing taxpayers a total of $173,145.
Recently, Senator Lundy made written replies to questions on notice arising from last October's Senate estimates hearings. Liberal senator Eric Abetz asked a series of specific questions relating to allegations of bullying and harassment at the ASC.
One person resigned from the ASC last year when confronted with claims relating to a failure to declare a conflict of interest.
In response to the bullying allegations, Senator Lundy gave details of the instances and said all had been upheld, except for claims that athletes were being harassed. "Seven instances involved a single complainant. One instance relating to bullying and harassment of athletes involved two complainants, and an instance relating to unacceptable communication style also involved two complainants.
"Therefore, in total, there have been 11 complainants. The complaints were upheld in all cases, except for the complaint regarding bullying and harassment of athletes.
"In this matter, following an investigation by an external consultant, it was determined that there was no case to answer." Senator Lundy said actions that had been taken by the ASC to address the complaints included training, mentoring, counselling, reassignment of duties and changes to supervisory responsibilities.
The sanctions applied included formal warnings and, in one instance, a fine and a suspension.
"In relation to one of the cases of inappropriate and unprofessional behaviour towards a subordinate, the sanction applied was termination of employment," the minister said. Asked by Senator Abetz what costs had been incurred by the ASC in managing the cases, Senator Lundy said four of the nine complaints had been managed internally.
"The costs incurred by the ASC in dealing with, or addressing, the other five complaints since January 2010 have been for the engagement of external consultants," she said.
"Since January 2010, the ASC has engaged CPM Reviews ($58,673) and QMS Investigation [Quality Management Solutions] ($114,472) to provide investigation services."