South Australian taxpayers have forked out almost $40 million to public servants harassed in their workplace over the past five years, explosive figures obtained by SA-BEST have revealed.
SA-BEST MLCs Frank Pangallo and Connie Bonaros have revealed 841 public servants received pay outs for work-related harassment – including 24 for sexual harassment – between 2015 and 2020.
The worst offending agency was the Department for Education which reported 253 cases of harassment – including 10 of sexual harassment – for a total payout of nearly $13 million over the five-year period.
Frank and Connie have met with a number of teachers harassed in the workplace including one where the department admitted the teacher had been falsely accused by a principal and was placed on Workcover.
“Disgracefully, the department continues to treat this young teacher appallingly,” said Frank, SA-BEST’s Treasury and Budget spokesperson.
The 10 sexual harassment claims were also the highest across the whole of government – followed by SA Health with seven cases – according to the figures released by the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment, Ms Erma Ranieri.
“These statistics are extremely disturbing and further proof much more needs to be done to stamp out all forms of harassment in the workplace,” Frank said.
“They also confirm what SA-BEST has long suspected and feared – that workplace bullying and harassment is rife in the Department for Education,” he said.
“One of my concerns is that if principals and teachers are harassing their own, what chance have we of teaching our children about the insidious nature of harassment and the damage it can cause.
“On the back of these figures, I have asked the Treasurer to investigate the extent of harassment in the public sector including the unacceptable numbers in his own department.”
Frank said Ms Ranieri has flagged “a zero tolerance” to this sort of repugnant behaviour – whatever that means!
The disturbing statistics reveal that between 2015 and 2020:
· 10 Department of Education employees received payouts totalling $374,781 for sexual harassment claims – at an average of $37,478.10 each.
· More than $12.5 million was paid out to a further 243 Department of Education employees for work-related harassment – at an average of $51,749.95.
· Across the whole of government, 24 public servants received compensation for sexual harassment totalling $701, 079 – or $29,211.65 on average.
· Across the whole of government, 817 public servants received payouts for other work-related harassment totalling $37,623,485 – at an average of $46,050.77.
Frank and Connie said SA Health (227 claims), SAPOL (72), Department of Human Services (61) and the Department of Corrections (44) rounded out the worst five government agencies for general workplace harassment.
“All South Australians should be alarmed at these figures, and the fact a staggering $40 million of taxpayers money has had to be paid to victims of workplace harassment over the past five years,” said Connie, SA-BEST’s Health and Government Accountability spokesperson.
“If the government was doing more to tackle harassment and bullying of public servants, that money could be redirected to fund critical public health services and other crucial support services cut by this heartless government,” she said.
“To have more than 800 public servants in a five-year period – or about 160 a year on average –report cases of harassment against them shows the widespread extent of public sector workplace bullying and harassment.
“It’s a sad indictment on the current workplace harassment policies of this government and reinforces the fact it has to do more to address to scourge of harassment in the public sector.”
Categories: GENERAL News