The enquiry into the State Courts Administration Authority and its current findings have come as a relief to Member for Frome Geoff Brock MP and administration employees.
Mr Brock received several complaints from throughout South Australia and Queensland from employees about their experiences at the Sheriff’s Office last year, and as a result referred the matter on to the Parliamentary Committee for further investigation.
“The issue was taken up by the Legislative Council of Parliament of South Australia’s Statutory Authorities Review Committee who called for people who had substantiated concerns or evidence of concerns while working for the Sheriff’s office to come forward,” Mr Brock said.
“Despite dozens of other victims who did not come forward with submissions and attempts by the CAA to discourage others from appearing before the parliamentary committee, the evidence became overwhelming.”
The 253-page report into the Courts Administration contains a raft of recommendations including that the Authority be stripped of its “despotic” power over sheriff’s officers.
Mr Brock said the damning report had uncovered a culture of bullying and harassment which had continued for more than a decade, costing taxpayers more than $1.5m in workplace and psychological compensation payments in only one year.
The report referenced the ‘seriousness and compelling nature of the evidence’ which had been put before the committee of inquiry which found the human resources practices dealing with Sherriff’s Officers within the CAA was grossly inadequate.
“I welcome the recommendations including that the Department of Correctional Services becomes the controlling body for Sherrif’s office staff,” Mr Brock said.
“The bullying has been systemic over a long period of time and I am pleased that this investigation has been able to shine a light on what has really been going on.
“Government and its associated bodies need to operate under a higher standard and this unacceptable treatment of staff in any workplace needs to be stamped out.
“Every employee has the right to feel safe in their workplace, and a government workplace is no exception.”