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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 19 September 2018) . . Page.. 3752 ..


Frank, like the AMA, has said that enough is enough. He is still an employee, but he is on sick leave. He is getting psychological counselling to help him deal with the trauma and stress the behaviour of senior management has caused. He is afraid to use ACT Health’s employment assistance scheme. He is afraid because inevitably someone in the management team will find out and will redouble their bullying, intimidation and harassment. There is no trust between Frank and ACT Health.

When Frank went home on his last day before going on leave, he was, by his own description, a shaking mess. The man who faced almost certain death in previous dangerous jobs was a shaking mess. His partner said to me over that cup of tea, “This is what they do to strong men.” Frank knows that he has to go back to work. He cannot afford to stop working. But he cannot face going back to the behaviour of his managers. Frank told me he was scared; he was scared to go back to work and he did not feel safe at the Canberra Hospital. The man who faced death elsewhere, himself and his team, is scared to work in a first-world hospital because he does not feel safe.

Minister Fitzharris is afraid that having people named in a public board of inquiry will cause them enormous professional and personal harm. If Frank’s story exposes those people for what they really are—bullies—a board of inquiry has been a success. Their professional personal standing does not deserve protection because they are utterly unprofessional.

Madam Speaker, the things that are happening to Frank and other members of ACT Health are happening today. We have been told over and over again by Minister Fitzharris and Mr Rattenbury that something magical happened in March and all we have to do is put those old stories from the past in the past. I can tell you that the people are still suffering. Frank is still suffering. The office workers from Calvary who are being bullied are being bullied today. They were being bullied last week, not last February—last week. This is going on over and over again. These stories are happening today. They draw a big question mark over Minister Fitzharris’s claims that ACT Health is going through some sort of renaissance.

Similarly, there is a big question mark over the departure of the designated CEO of Canberra Hospital and Health Services just three days after announcing her in her role. It has been said that the CEO gave personal reasons for leaving, but is that entirely the case, Madam Speaker? We have thought about this, and we have discussed it at length and with a number of people. No-one can come up with the sort of personal reason that would cause someone to stand in front of the media on Monday and by Wednesday night decide that she could not possibly hold down this job. What was so profound that it led her to resign before she even saw her desk? What was it? And what was said to her, and by whom? Who has the most to gain from her departure or her non-starting?

Minister Fitzharris has called a board of inquiry a witch-hunt. She can use that term if she likes, but for me, if it is a witch-hunt, we need to exorcise the witches from ACT Health. That is an important task for us to do. The toxic culture in ACT Health is not limited to bullying, intimidation and harassment. There may be corruption, too. A board of inquiry would need to examine that.


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