Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation: workplace bullying

Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation: workplace bullying.

My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Liquor and Gaming Regulation. The action I seek is for him to fully investigate and take any appropriate action regarding persistent allegations of a culture of workplace bullying and intimidation at the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR), which has of course incorporated the former Responsible Alcohol Victoria. I have been advised by a number of parties that employees of the VCGLR and their families have been seriously affected by alleged past and continuing misconduct involving workplace bullying. The claims that have been brought to my attention and to the attention of others are disturbing and significant.

These employees have been deeply affected by their experiences in the workplace. I have been told that reporting of these incidents to the VCGLR, its predecessors and the Department of Justice goes back a couple of years. I am further advised that senior public servants who have longstanding and significant complaints against them have not been sanctioned or stood down, and I am also advised that impact statements from employees have been made to the Department of Justice about senior management of the VCGLR.

It is also alleged that there has been a deliberate process of covering up complaints. This has been in the backdrop of the harmonisation of the regulatory responsibilities for gaming and liquor under the umbrella of the VCGLR, as we now know. I am advised that these workplace issues have, if anything, escalated rather than dissipated under the umbrella of the new body and that some of the stakeholders believe that these heightened tactics have been linked to the desire of the VCGLR to reduce staff numbers in the organisation.

I am further advised that, clearly, these accusations are not being made lightly. Impact statements include allegations of deliberate intimidation, threatening and harassing conduct, bullying and discrimination. These claims suggest that the Department of Justice and the VCGLR have not been providing a safe working environment, free from occupational violence and workplace bullying. At the very least they need examination by the minister and his office. Clearly such conduct, if proven, is inappropriate, not just in terms of workplace law and the standards the community expects but also in the context of the role of the VCGLR in enforcing high standards of regulation in the very important and often challenging industries of gaming and liquor.

Victorians deserve, and indeed demand, that their liquor and gaming industries are regulated by a commission of the highest internal and external standards and that all employees, particularly senior employees, of this organisation conduct themselves with the highest level of personal integrity while maintaining the core values of the Victorian public service. Accordingly I call on the minister to fully investigate these claims and satisfy himself that all actions have been undertaken to address and resolve these substantial concerns.

Hansard, 2013