Cr Rebecca Vonhoff. Picture: Kevin Farmer
Cr Rebecca Vonhoff. Picture: Kevin Farmer

‘Garbage behaviour’: Councillor calls out bullying findings

A Toowoomba councillor has become the first to publicly respond to results from a recent internal staff survey showing an "unacceptable" level of sexual harassment and bullying cases were not being reported.

Excerpts from the new report, based on the responses from hundreds of council staff that were collected late last year, revealed nearly 40 workers had experienced sexual harassment in the prior 12 months, and another 229 had been the victim of bullying in their estimation.

However, the council only had a combined 11 formal complaints related to harassment or bullying over that time period.

Cr Rebecca Vonhoff, speaking on behalf of herself and not the TRC, said bullying and harassment of any kind was not to be tolerated.

She also flagged that action could be taken by the council at next week's ordinary meeting.

"Council has about 1800 staff and 11 elected members who need to be able to go to work and do their jobs," she said.

"Sexual harassment and bullying impacts health and safety, productivity and public confidence in local government - it's not acceptable.

"As a council we'll have the opportunity to act at this coming Tuesday's ordinary meeting.

"I encourage anyone who said in the survey that they'd experienced this garbage behaviour to speak up and report it formally because the time for change is now."

Another councillor, who did not want to be named, said the results were concerning.

Mayor Paul Antonio declined to comment when approached by The Chronicle.

Speaking this week in response to initial reports, CEO Brian Pidgeon said the survey results indicated the TRC had work to do.

"This is unacceptable - we need to understand why there is such a variance between what the survey has indicated and what has been reported so they can be investigated and appropriate actions can be taken."

The Australian Workers Union was also approached for comment, but did not respond in time for publication.

 

Originally published as 'Garbage behaviour': Councillor calls out bullying findings


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