Page 3930 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 29 October 2013

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According to reports from the Commissioner for Public Administration, reports of bullying and harassment have totalled 68 cases in 2010-11, 71 in 2011-12, and 118 cases in the financial year that has just passed, 2012-13. Proven cases of bullying have numbered four, eight 11 and 19 respectively. This amounts to complaints being made by 0.5 per cent of staff, and substantiated in relation to 0.08 per cent of staff.

Each of these cases is one too many, and I do not use those figures to diminish the importance of a strong response to bullying where it occurs and the need to urge staff to report concerns around bullying when they think it is occurring. But it is interesting to look at the numbers over the financial year. I would hate a proposition to be put that the ACT public service is a public service with extensive problems around bullying, because it is simply not the case and not supported by the facts.

While the number of reports is increasing, we did expect this given the heightened focus on conduct and on reporting poor conduct since the launch of the RED framework, and indeed since all of those staff have been trained in it. Increased reporting is a vote of confidence in the processes put in place that staff are prepared to speak out about their concerns where there are concerns. That people are coming forward is evidence that the system is working. It is hoped that the number of proven matters will level out and decline over the next few years as initiatives to foster a positive workplace culture start to take effect.

The ACT public service accepts around 25 claims for workers compensation arising from bullying and harassment each year. In 2012-13 bullying and harassment claims accounted for 43 per cent of psychological injury claims and five per cent of all accepted workers compensation claims. Currently there are 11 ACT public sector workers with an ongoing incapacity to work arising from a bullying and harassment injury. The ACT public service tends to experience proportionately fewer workers compensation claims for psychological injury than the commonwealth public service.

I think members can see from that presentation that the government is leading the way in ensuring that public servants are aware that bullying is not acceptable, that people are trained appropriately both in roles as individual workers and as managers of people around the respect, equity and diversity framework, and we will continue to do that. We are continuing to do work around the public service code of conduct and the Public Sector Management Act standards that support that, to make sure they remain relevant, up to date and promote the best public service that the ACT community should be served by.

I will take Mr Doszpot’s point; I think we are well served on the whole by a dedicated workforce within the ACT public service, but I am not going to pretend that I have not seen emails, had letters of complaint and reviewed the cases of individual employees which break your heart when you read about how they have been treated at work. I am not going to pretend that I have not read them; I have.

Quite often, when you get down to where some of the problems emerge from, it is not necessarily ill will or anything menacing about particular supervisors, managers or other colleagues that people have trouble with. More often than not it is a lack of

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