08 November 2011
NSW WorkCover has investigated complaints of bullying at the National e-Health Transition Authority’s Sydney headquarters, and is working with the organisation “to ensure bullying does not take place”.
The complaints came to light last month at a Senate estimates hearing, when new Victorian Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie asked if Nehta had been investigated following a complaint.
Nehta chief executive Peter Fleming replied: “There was just a very brief investigation.
“I believe a WorkCover officer came and had a talk to our head of personnel and I believe that issue was dealt with to their satisfaction immediately,” Mr Fleming said.
WorkCover has confirmed an investigation took place, and “we are continuing to work with the employer to ensure that appropriate measures are in place to limit the workplace bullying and prevent a recurrence”, a spokesman said.
“WorkCover considers workplace bullying a very serious matter,” the spokesman said.
“When instances of alleged bullying are reported, WorkCover conducts an investigation to ensure appropriate prevention strategies are in place.
“We can offer counselling, advice and, where necessary, issue enforcement notices.”
The Australian understands the investigation included two visits to the Nehta offices, an interview with the human resources manager, an examination of employee exit reports and a number of interviews with randomly selected staff.
A confirmation of advice record was issued.
Mr Fleming’s office said yesterday: “In August, WorkCover undertook an investigation of Nehta’s grievance handling procedures. Workcover found that Nehta did have appropriate processes and procedures in place.
“This corresponds with Mr Fleming’s advice to the Senate estimates committee on October 19.”
At the estimates hearing, Mr Fleming also conceded staff turnover was “high” at 30 per cent annually, and said Nehta had “commissioned researchers to talk to staff and understand the drivers behind that”.
In response to The Australian’s questions, Mr Fleming said “all staff are continuing the hard work required to enable the delivery of e-health”.
“We’re constantly monitoring the performance and capability of our staff to ensure we deliver against our objectives and provide value for money to the taxpayer,” he said.
“To date, we’ve discovered nothing unusual about our workforce given the nature of the authority and our highly specialised work.
“This oversight will continue and any issues that are identified will be dealt with appropriately,” Mr Fleming said.
Wearing her Nehta director’s hat, Health secretary Jane Halton said the board had “a conversation with management quite regularly about what is going on, reasons for exit, etc.
“So in terms of board duties, this is a matter which is discussed”.
Nehta had an operating deficit of $9 million during the last financial year, but reported a $32.9m surplus on total revenue of $123.6m.
The surplus was attributable to prepayments for this year’s work program.