Page 3926 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 29 October 2013

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else in the ACT public service, much less the wider community. But I suspect that it might well be regarded as the canary in the mine, and I believe a reading of the Kefford report would lead to that conclusion also.

We already know from the work that Mr Hanson did last year and the year before that the department of health had and continues to have an equally toxic workplace environment. I know from families coming to me when I was shadow minister for disability that there was and still is harassment and bullying of staff, bullying of carers working in supported accommodation, harassment of residents by carers and harassment of residents’ families.

So while CIT is in the public arena, it is sadly not unique among public service departments. What is so appalling about CIT and indeed the however many other examples there might be out there as yet undiscovered is that, were it not for a couple of brave souls speaking out, if they had not been so determined to not be beaten by the system, I doubt anything would have changed.

When the Canberra Liberals tried to raise the anomalies at CIT with the then education minister, Andrew Barr, we were fobbed off. When it was raised with the then CIT chief executive, he denied he knew anything about it and, to the extent he did know anything, the matters had been appropriately dealt with, had been passed to Comcare and there was nothing more to be said or done.

What would have happened had one or two persistent aggrieved employees not kept writing to the opposition and not kept writing to the Chief Minister? Perhaps it was the Chief Minister who finally instructed the WorkSafe commissioner and then the Commissioner for Public Administration to investigate. But if the improvement notice was as far as any reprimand was likely to go, nothing would have changed.

I am advised CIT’s response to the initial notice was to display its contents behind a closed door. If that is any indication of a culture change, it is just as well the Commissioner for Public Administration was called in to investigate. If it was the Chief Minister’s intervention that finally made it happen, we should all be grateful she did step in, because it was only then that the can of worms started to be opened.

And what a can it was. It started with a handful of cases and grievances, but by the time the matters had accelerated to the Commissioner of Public Administration inquiry, there were 57 cases that required an investigative team of seven to deal with all the issues, some of them going back nearly a decade. I am not sure what happened to 15 of those cases, but by the time the commissioner’s report and government response were tabled in the Assembly last week, the number had reduced to 42.

Minister Burch almost casually dismisses this as a small number of cases. Given there are nearly 771 full-time equivalent employees at CIT, I would have thought 57, and even 42, is a significant number in such a relatively small workplace. I understand that within the Education and Training Directorate, which has a teaching staff of around 4,000—or nearly six times the size of CIT—the level of similar complaints is a handful by comparison. So I am alarmed to think on what basis the minister is claiming 42 as “small”. Does the minister know of other agencies or directorates with

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