CSIRO ordered to take action on bullying culture

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The premier science and technology organisation, the CSIRO, has been left red-faced following the issue of an ‘improvement notice’ by the federal workplace insurance authority.

According to Comcare, the response by the organisation in relation to claims of bullying, misconduct, workplace conflict, psychological stress or injuries were not good enough. As a result, the CSIRO has been ordered to better protect its staff against psychological injuries caused by bullying and harassment.

Related story: Toxic culture whistleblowers retrenched

The Age reported that CSIRO confirmed it had received the notice and was willing to comply. A group of 12 former and serving employees, represented by law firm Maurice Blackburn, who are pushing for workplace reform were told last month the notice had been served on the organisation following an investigation by Comcare.

Senior official Neil Quarmby told Fairfax that the decision to issue the notice had been made after the insurer spent several months “thoroughly reviewing the workplace systems relating to the prevention and management of bullying behaviour at CSIRO”. “As a result of those investigations, and due to a range of deficiencies identified, Comcare has issued CSIRO with an Improvement Notice under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011,” he wrote to the lawyers.

Specifically, the notice asks for the review and improvement of CSIRO's governance systems around the management of workplace misconduct and of allegations of bullying. Further,
 

  • The provision of training to CSIRO staff regarding misconduct, bullying and workplace conflict;
     
  • The proper support and management of workers exhibiting psychological distress or injury;
     
  • The implementation of systems ensuring regular workplace hazard and risk assessment of psychosocial risk factors; and
     
  • The notification of incidents of bullying to Comcare.

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