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Whistleblowing Women

Australian women who blow the whistle on corruption in their workplaces.

Duan (Dauan) Island teacher : a Whistleblowing Woman in the Queensland Department of Education.

A whistleblowing woman teacher emailed the Queensland opposition in 2008 to raise her concerns about the serious safety issues facing teachers who are working in the Torres Strait Islands.

The Queensland opposition tabled her email in parliament on 15 April 2008.

Two years earlier - in April 2006, when she was 21 years old and had just two months teaching experience - the teacher had been sent to work on Duan island.

Her shared departmental accommodation was not secure. 

A canvas blind in her bedroom could not be closed. 

The security door had no key. 

The phone was disconnected. 

It was never connected during the ten weeks that the teacher was on the island.

The teacher said she answered a knock at the door of her home late at night to discover a man asking for oral s-x.

She said she closed the door, but the man easily broke through the door, overpowered her and tried to drag her into the bedroom.

"I kept screaming for him to let go, and finally was able to struggle him out the door and out onto the front lawn," the teacher said.

"I screamed for help and he let go and said: "Okay, okay', and ran away."

Wanting to call her parents but without a reliable phone in her house, the teacher ran to the school principal's house.

The principal advised the teacher to wait till she "settled down" the next day before calling her parents.

She was also advised not to leave the island on the next barge - due in three days.

The young teacher claims that she was advised : " It would not be a good idea as she (the principal) would not be able to recommend me for a future teaching position".

The police arrived three days later but did not arrest and charge the man until six weeks after the alleged assault, the teacher said.

On the night the man was arrested, his friends allegedly harassed the teacher, banging on her window and doors.

After this incident she began sleeping with a knife under her bed and a mallet next to her pillow.

The young teacher said she received "absolutely no support from Education Queensland" during her time on Duan island.

She left the island soon after.

The young teacher later asked the Education Department's regional office staff if they were aware that she had been attacked on the island.

A spokesman said the department was aware of the alleged attack but had a policy of not contacting classroom teachers unless it was a life or death situation.

The young woman is no longer teaching.

Teacher slept beside knife, Michael Wray, The Courier-Mail, 21 March 2008

'I slept with a mallet and a knife', Tony Moore, The Brisbane Times, 16 April, 2008

Torres Strait teacher 'fended off sex attacker', Roberta Mancuso, The Brisbane Times, AAP, 15 April, 2008

Phyllis Yunkaporta, a Whistleblowing Woman at Aurukun School.

Phyllis Yunkaporta works as a teacher's aide at Aurukun school.

The Aurukun school reopened this term after being closed down following a series of violent episodes which forced the evacuation of the teachers.

Kate Jones had ordered a review of the school before it was re-opened.

Ms Yunkaporta wrote to Education Minister Kate Jones to tell her that the school was still "falling apart in front of our very eyes", that the teachers were struggling to control the bad behaviour of the students, and that students were climbing onto the school roof.

Patrea Walton, Queensland's Deputy Director-General of Sate Schools, did not thank Ms Yunkaporta for writing to tell Kate Jones about the students climbing onto the roof of the school.

Ms Walton criticised Ms Yunkaporta.

She said Ms Yunkaporta had a number of opportunities to raise her concerns but had not done so.

Robina Cosser says : Maybe Ms Yunkaporta was waiting for one of the teachers to tell Kate Jones and Patrea Walton about the continuing problems at Aurukun school.

Maybe the teachers were too afraid of being put on Managing Unsatisfactory Performance for speaking up about the continuing problems.

Teacher's aide warns of trouble at Aurukun, Lauren Martyn-Jones, p.6, The Courier-Mail, 6 September 2016

Robina Cosser : a Whistleblowing Woman in the Queensland Department of Education.

Robina's story :

In 2000 the Grade 7 students at Lynch-Mob State College were roaming about the school, disrupting the other classes.

I discussed the situation with the acting principal, Mrs GR.

She advised me to discuss the situation at a staff meeting.

She put it at the top of the agenda for the next meeting.

But at the staff meeting she spoke before me, talking at length about "a person" who was humiliating students.

The next day a friend warned me that "the person" was me.

My friend told me that Mrs GR was telling teachers that I had told a child to put their nose to the wall, and that if "it" contined, I was going to be put on Diminished Workplace Performance (DWP).

I rang Mrs GR and she confirmed that I was the person she had been talking about to the teachers.

I was deeply shocked by Mrs GR's behaviour.

I became very ill.

My doctor gave me a week off work.

During that week I sought advice on how to deal with Mrs GR's behaviour.

The Queensland Teacher's Union advised me to ask for a meeting of the school Behaviour Management Committee.

The Cairns District Office Welfare officer advised me to ask for that meeting and also for a mediated meeting with Mrs GR to discuss the breakdown of our professional relationship.

So, as soon as I arrived back at school I asked for those two meetings.

Mrs GR eventually agreed to meet me - but she said the purpose of the meeting would be to discuss putting me on DWP.

During this meeting Mrs GR repeatedly refused to listen to me.

She told me she had documented allegations, but did not show them to me.

Two days after this meeting, Mrs GR gave me a letter to advise me that she and the usual principal had agreed that I would be on DWP the next term.

Any intelligent, literate person would have known that Mrs GR's letter was evidence of Mrs GR's breach of the DWP process, the Code of Conduct, the Public Service Regulations, etc.

For example - the usual principal had been on leave all term and had not discussed the situation with me before making this agreement.

This was a clear denial of Natural Justice.

But the Queensland Teachers Union organiser - who had been at the meeting and who had -

* heard Mrs GR repeatedly refusing to allow me to respond to her allegations

* heard Mrs GR claim that she had "lots of " written allegations concerning me

* knew that Mrs GR had not shown me any of these "lots of" written allegations concerning me

* and who knew that the usual principal was on leave and had not discussed the situation with me before making this agreement with Mrs GR

- advised me that there was no hope of justice.

During the meeting I had said I would make a Grievance about Mrs GR's behaviour.

The QTU organiser advised me that he had never known a teacher's Grievance to be upheld.

He told me that teachers who 'fought it" were mentally and physically destroyed.

His only advice was to "accept the things that cannot change".

Several other QTU officers later told me that this was good advice, "based on many years of experience of dealing with Education Queensland".

In November 2000, I could not believe that the system was so corrupt.

I asked the Cairns Regional Executive Director to appoint an investigator to find out the truth.

The usual principal was appointed to examine his own behaviour (and that of Mrs GR).

The usual principal did not support my Grievance.

Years later I discovered under FOI that a mass of falsified documents had been secretly placed on my official records with the usual principal's Grievance report.

This created the false impression that these falsified 'records' had been discussed with me during the Grievance investigation.

The usual principal's behaviour convinced me that what the QTU organiser had been telling me the truth - the grievance system was corrupt.

On 31 August 2001 I made a Public Interest Disclosure to Jim Varghese, the Director General, that the DWP and Grievance processes were being abused to bully Queensland teachers into ill health and out of work.

The Director-General sent it to the Cairns District Office to investigate.

The Cairns District Office advised me that they were doing nothing about my disclosure.

So when Anna Bligh (the Minister of Education) came to Cairns for a Community Meeting, I sat down with her and Jim Varghese (the Director General) and made the same disclosure directly to them both.

One month later the Cairns Regional Executive Director assured me he had the bullying under control.

And I retired.

I was so relieved - the stress was over - the problem had been resloved!

But a few days later Mrs GR was given a big promotion to an "acting" principal position.

And six months later her promotion was "confirmed".

And then I realised that I had been tricked : "I've got the bullying under control - I've promoted the bully" did not make sense to me.

So I re-made my disclosure to the Crime and Misconduct Commission.

I explained the political situation (a significant conflict of interest) to the CMC.

The CMC officer reduced my disclosure to gibberish and then made a note that, having spoken to me, she doubted my credibility.

The CMC sent my disclosure back to the department.

The department slowly investigated.

The department of education employs an army of highly qualified barristers and solicitors.

But in 2004 the department used an Aboriginal employee with no qualifications in education, law or psychology to 'find no evidence of bullying' - in the mass of falsified documents that had been secretly placed on my file.

He had only been given the first page of my complaint.

The other twenty-six pages had been "lost" or jumbled up with other documents.

In 2006 a Verifact investigator found that I had not been shown the file of falsified documents.

Neither of these 'investigators' was allowed to investigate -

 * the agreement between Mrs GR and the usual principal that I would be on DWP in 2001.

 * or the usual principal's failure to support my Grievance.

 * or the falsification of the 'records' that had been secretly placed on the Grievance file.

 * or my Public Interest Disclosure that the DWP and Grievance system were being abused to bully teachers into ill health and out of work.

On 23 August 2006 - five years after I first made my Public Interest Disclosure -the Verifact investigator recommended that "consideration be given with regards to whether disciplinary action be intitiated".

And the Director of the Workforce Standards and Performance Unit signed a letter to the Cairns Regional Executive Director to say that this recommendation would be appropriately addressed ... "by taking steps to remind all personnel in the region of their responsibilities with regards to the use and management of adverse departmental records".

A letter of this nature would have sent a message to all bully principals in the Cairns region that this was all that would happen if they bullied a teacher.

And, four years later, in 2010, a teacher in another school in Cairns - a school in the very next suburb to my own - made a workplace bullying complaint.

It, too, was not supported.

And in 2011, under threat of the DWP, and having lost all faith in Education Queensland as an employer, that teacher suicided : The Burpengary Story.

Robina's story in more detail : My Own True Story.