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Australian science agency to launch independent bullying investigation

Posted on behalf of Stephen Pincock.

Australia’s national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organisation (CSIRO), has announced that it plans to appoint an external investigator to review accusations of bullying made by former employees.

In a statement posted on the agency’s website this week, chief executive Megan Clarke said that “an eminent and experienced independent person” would be set on the task of reviewing the claims and assessing whether previous investigations were adequate.

As Nature reported recently, various accusations of bullying have emerged from the CSIRO in recent years. Most recently, a federal watchdog instructed the agency to improve its systems for managing allegations of misconduct after looking into complaints made by one former employee.

The agency says that the new review mechanism is designed to provide a formal way for former employees to raise concerns and allegations of inappropriate behaviour or misconduct while they were working at the CSIRO. It wouldn’t be a scheme under which former employees could seek financial compensation.

A CSIRO spokesman said that the terms of reference and the name of the investigator would be announced in coming weeks.

News of the latest review has been cautiously welcomed by a group of former CSIRO employees who call themselves Victims of Bullying, Harassment and Victimisation in the CSIRO.

“We’re all waiting for the terms of reference and for the name of the investigator to be announced,” said Andrew Hooley, the group’s spokesman. He told Nature that he hoped the investigation would be conducted as transparently as possible, and that the CSIRO would act on the findings.



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