Page 3770 - Week 12 - Thursday, 24 October 2013

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CIT has also acknowledged that its handling of some of the matters that were escalated to the commissioner should and could have been better managed. The learnings from CIT and this experience will contribute to the enhancement of the ACT public service for all employees.

The ACT government is committed to a public service where all staff adhere to the values of respect, integrity, collaboration and innovation enshrined in the ACT public service code of conduct and treat each other accordingly. Managing people is not always easy and straightforward, particularly within a large workforce of such diversity. To do this well is not easy and can be confronting for many managers. It takes courage, good leadership, clear direction and continual review of policies and procedures to make sure they are working effectively. CIT has demonstrated that with concerted effort you can change workplace culture.

I believe it is now time for the ACT government and the members of the Assembly to support CIT to rebuild its reputation as one of the ACT’s chief educational assets.

MR DOSZPOT (Molonglo) (10.10): Let me record at the start, on behalf of the opposition, the bravery and courage of 42 current and former CIT employees who came forward to speak up about their treatment at one of Canberra’s public education institutions. This has been a long, very painful process, and it continues.

Without their courage, the culture of bullying and harassment would have continued. As recently as 2012, and in the face of a negative WorkSafe report, CIT and its senior management, most of whom remain today, were still arguing that there was nothing wrong with its management. Come October 2013, we are now being encouraged to believe they are changed people. Let the evidence over time speak for itself.

I note the minister’s comments, charitably perhaps because she has only come to this issue in relatively recent times. She could be excused for delivering such a glib, tokenistic response. The minister urges us all to “support CIT to rebuild its reputation”. What about the reputation of the 42 current and former employees? Where is the call for us to help them rebuild their lives? The minister and the government remain, and have remained for several years, shamefully silent.

The minister says the report identified “some issues” in relation to “a small number of individuals”. I do not regard 42 complaints as just “a small number”. Neither do I regard systemic and ongoing workplace harassment that resulted in people being unable to work full time again as just some issue.

The report contains nine recommendations. Let me comment on two. Recommendation 1 says:

That CIT acknowledge and apologise for past failures in the management of a small number of areas within CIT …

In relation to that, the minister advises that CIT has acted swiftly and delivered a sincere apology. The swift apology took years in the coming, and the level of sincerity is not for the minister to determine. It is for the victims to assess the sincerity of CIT’s actions. For many, it will be a bridge too far.

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