Victorian health department fires almost 50 staff for bullying and misconduct
Summary: ALMOST 50 public servants in Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services have been fired for bullying, misconduct, and otherwise inappropriate behaviour.....
Scores of terminations, reported in documents handed to parliament’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee, reveal that a culture of harassment and bullying is rife.
Up to 25 employees were fired in 2015 and 24 more last year. There were 182 allegations of workplace harassment and 10 WorkCover claims.
And a survey revealed there were “higher than acceptable levels of bullying and inappropriate behaviour”.
Department secretary Kym Peake told the parliamentary committee a workplace mediator had been hired, at an annual cost to taxpayers of more than $167,000.
Opposition health spokeswoman Mary Wooldridge said bullying was rampant under the current government.
“The Andrews Government’s culture of bullying must end, as it not only has a high financial cost but a very significant human one as well,” Ms Wooldridge said.
“(Premier) Daniel Andrews has been more focused on protecting rorting Labor MPs than he has been looking after the welfare of workers.”
Community Public Sector Union leader Karen Batt said that a lack of staff was exacerbating the problem.
”Bullying is still rife in some parts of DHHS, and training doesn’t seem to fix the underlying causes, as there’s no accountability after the fact,’’ Ms Batt said.
“Managers are under pressure to deliver with inadequate staff resources as demands grow with our booming population.
“The workplace facilitator, and all the positive statements within the organisation, aren’t changing the underlying culture.”
Crys Ja, speaking on behalf of Health Minister Jill Hennessy, said that misconduct in the workplace was not tolerated within government departments.
“Bullying is never OK. Whether you’re in a school or a workplace, there is no justification for it,’’ she said.
“We know the department takes these issues very seriously, and has a range of policies in place to ensure a safe and respectful working culture.”
A department spokesman said there was a “zero tolerance” approach to workplace misconduct.