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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 4346..


MRS DUNNE (continuing):

A number of other bullying incidents have taken place at the school. I am intimately aware of the case of another teacher being moved out of one faculty into another to be removed from the sphere of influence of the bullying teacher; a third teacher being so driven that she took leave without pay to avoid the bullying teacher; and there was another investigation as a result of a formal grievance complaint.

We need to take into account that, at least in the case of the teacher who took leave without pay, the departmental employee assistance program provider, Davidson Trahaire, stated that the stress experienced by this teacher, who had Comcare-approved leave, was caused by workplace bullying. Davidson Trahaire said that although they were asked to mediate between the two people, they could not and would not do so because they could not mediate with the bully. The department's OH&S section was provided with this information.

The teachers-in fact, there were three teachers-commenced grievance procedures over their treatment by the department of education. The first teacher-the one who was on leave without pay-lodged a grievance complaint about her treatment, and two other teachers lodged grievance complaints about the fact that although they were given assurances that this would not happen again, it did happen again. Their grievance was that they felt not that they had been bullied but they had been let down by the department of education.

During the grievance procedure, carried out by an independent person who I understand is a former employer of the department of education, a range of things did not happen. The department of education's OH&S section was not consulted. Also, the school's OH&S delegate was not able to participate in the grievance process because under departmental rules he cannot investigate the actions of a senior teacher-a teacher more senior to the departmental delegate.

The grievance procedures were entirely insufficient in the view of those people who made the grievance complaint on the basis that Davidson Trahaire was not consulted. Also the people who made the grievance complaint were not consulted, except on a very simple procedural matter. But the teacher complained about and the school concerned were consulted.

The senior teacher has been counselled about her bullying behaviour, which seems to recognise that there is a problem in the school. However, this style has led to continued bullying and, at least to my knowledge, there have been two confirmed cases of Comcare leave as a result of the bullying.

It seems to me that the department accepts that there is a problem and that there are adverse health outcomes-adverse health outcomes that certainly are the result of bullying. Bullying by children would not be tolerated in this school; it should not be tolerated in any workplace.

I ask the minister whether she is satisfied with the answer. I would like a response from the minister at some stage as to whether she is satisfied with the assurances that she gave me yesterday that all due process had been carried out and everything was done in the interests of natural justice of the parties.


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