Working Class Whistler
The Queensland Ombudsman.
The Queensland Ombudsman.
On 14 June 2000 I asked the Queensland Ombudsman to investigate the integrity of the actions taken by Queensland Health, the ADCQ and Mr Laikind.
The independent investigation I hoped for was not to be!
The independent investigation I hoped for was not to be!
On 14 March 2001 Mr King, the Deputy Ombudsman, advised he had referred my concerns regarding Queensland Health to the QH Director-General, Dr R Stable, for a Queensland Health review.
Mr King's advice, given in order for him to consider the actions taken by the ADCQ and Mr Laikind, was that I write in the first instance the ADCQ Commissioner and the Queensland Law Society, respectively.
In response to the Queensland Law Society Mr Laikind wrote two letters, dated 8 May 2001 and 15 June 2001, which I forwarded to Mr King.
Mr Laikind's first letter informed:
“… The Conciliator… has the full reign as to how the Conciliation conference is to be conducted...Peter Weekes wished to limit discussion somewhat to the area of indirect discrimination accepted…
Ms Hollywood was not allowed to read all of her typed statement as this had only recently come into the possession of the ADCQ and the other side had not had the full opportunity to prepare a response...
I do not have a right to represent Ms Hollywood’s story without Ms Hollywood speaking.
There is actually no right for me to speak at all, it is up to the conciliator if I am entitled to say anything or even ask questions of Ms Hollywood...
I have been advised by Peter Weekes...that the complaint would be declined as lacking in substance if an agreement could not be reached during a conciliation Conference…Ms Hollywood would probably not be afforded an opportunity to refer the matter to the Queensland Anti- Discrimination tribunal...
a Conciliation agreement was drafted by Peter Weekes in consultation with myself and the respondents...Ms Hollywood disagreed...There was no authority to bring a complaint to the Queensland Anti- Discrimination Tribunal.”
In his second letter to the QLS Mr Laikind informed:
“..The conciliator has the ability...to exclude legal representatives from participation at any time...
Ms Hollywood provided me with a very lengthy set of questions she wished asked at the Conference.
I forwarded these questions to the conciliator, Peter Weekes.
It was the conciliator’s choice not to have Ms Hollywood read her entire set of questions as this was determined to involve too much time and would be unproductive.
Peter Weekes wished to hear from Ms Hollywood on the three matters that had been provisionally accepted as potentially discrimination...where a matter is provisionally accepted the Commission may determine even after a Conciliation conference is conducted that a matter is frivolous, vexatious or lacking in substance.
It may then not give the complainant the opportunity to refer the matter to the tribunal but dismiss the complaint.
The conciliator intimated this course at the Conference...All of the options were carefully explained...
Ms Hollywood states that she was refused a right to take her matter to the Queensland Anti- Discrimination Tribunal. There is no such automatic right...”
I also forwarded the response dated 6 May 2001 to the Ombudsman, made on behalf of the ADCQ Commissioner by the Principal conciliator, Mr P Davison:
“...It would be inappropriate for the Commission to comment on a...whether statements provided by the respondents were misleading or not.
This would have been for the Tribunal to determine had the matter proceeded that far.
I also cannot comment on whether Peter Weekes made certain comments to you during the Conciliation Conference as he is not currently with the Commission.
The Commission is of the opinion that it was your decision, in consultation with your legal representative, to withdraw your complaint...
It is not up to the Conciliator to tell you which decision to make but to inform you of the options that you have. However I am sure that Peter Weekes would not have attempted to coerce you to withdraw your complaint as there are many matters that do not settle by conciliation and go on to the Tribunal for hearing.
If you have any concerns regarding the behaviour of Mr Laikind during the conciliation then you will need to take these matters up with him personally.”
It took the Ombudsman three years to advise that he declined to review the integrity of the ADCQ handling of my discrimination complaint:
“A conciliation conference is not an ‘investigative forum’ whereby a complainant can cross examine the respondents...
You advised that you wished to proceed to the Tribunal, but Peter Weekes warned you against doing so...
ADCQ believed that Peter Weekes would not have attempted to coerce you to withdraw your complaint as many matters do not settle by conciliation and go to the Tribunal for hearing...
The ADCQ believed that it was your decision, in consultation with your solicitor, to withdraw your complaint...whilst you may have felt pressured by the conciliator to withdraw your complaint, you were advised of your right to pursue your complaint to the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal...In view of the above circumstances we regrettably considered that further investigation of your complaints was not necessary or justifiable.”
In his letter dated 14 March 2001 Mr King advised he had outlined my concerns with the QH Director-General, Dr R Stable, requesting the matters I had raised be closely examined.
Unbeknownst to me then, Mr King had provided Dr Stable with a document titled “EXTRACT OF COMPLAINT: MS P HOLLYWOOD” which contained 26 items of concern which completely excluded my concerns regarding the FOI searches for the documents retained by Ms Mason throughout the discrimination investigation.
I was unaware of this document until it was released through Freedom of Information in 2007.
The "Extract of Complaint" provided to Mr R Stable.
The "Extract of Complaint" provided to Mr R Stable.
The items of concern included CN Clench's instigation of the footwear restriction, Ms Mason’s deception in her letter to me dated 25 May, and the waiver mentioned in the WPHS report.
On 4 April 2001 Dr J Youngman, the General Manager Health Services, responded on behalf of the Director-General:
Dr Youngman's letter had been drafted by Mr B Evans who, during his representation of Queensland Health at the ADCQ conciliation conference, refused to divulge his knowledge of the evidence Ms Mason had withheld from the ADCQ investigation.
Unaware Mr Evans had drafted Dr Youngman's letter, and unaware of the 26 specific items of concern raised by the Ombudsman with Dr Stable, which had not been addressed in that letter, I responded to Mr King:
“I feel that there is an unwillingness within the District to carry out a formal and thorough investigation…it is apparent that Dr Youngman delegated Dr J Menzies to conduct the examination of these issues and has subsequently based his findings on the advice of Dr Menzies, without personally examining the documents supporting my claim…Dr Youngman had not adequately addressed Ms Mason’s actions regarding my remedial footwear in the workplace, he made no reference to the erroneous content of her letter dated 25 May 1998…Ms Mason, alone, had forbidden my remedial footwear in the workplace, with the full knowledge that I would be incapacitated without them. Dr Youngman has not addressed these issues”
Two years later on 25 June 2003 the Ombudsman, Mr King, responded:
“In the DON’s letter to you dated 25 May 1998, she requested that you advise if you were unable to arrange for suitable shoes which complied with the Workplace Health & Safety requirements. The DON indicated that she would then ‘…seek advice and possibly refer the matter on.’ This indicates the DON was willing to further consider the matter…Even though you advised that you believed Ms Mason’s advice to you (from March to June) that you could not return to work with your remedial sandals was as a result of a directive from WPHS, you didn’t advise that you personally queried this decision/directive with WPHS or utilised other established processes (such as QH’s Equity Liaison Officer Network, or its Occupational Health or Employees Assistance Services) prior to handing in your resignation.
You were aware of the grievance process. However you didn’t lodge a grievance while you were employed concerning the decision/direction that you could not return to work with your remedial sandals.
Had you lodged such a grievance and it had not resolved your concern, you would have then been entitled to lodge a Fair Treatment appeal with the Public Service Commissioner…
In early July Ms Mason forwarded you a copy of a letter from WPHS-RBH which informed you that you could return to work with your sandals…You didn’t withdraw your resignation or return to work.
In view of the above circumstances we regrettably considered that further investigation of your complaints was not necessary or justifiable. Accordingly we have closed the file.”
On 17 July 2003 I appealed to Mr King for a review of his decision on the grounds:
“There is an obvious conflict of interest when an organization is asked to investigate itself…The evidence clearly confirms that WPHS were not involved in Ms Mason’s exclusive directive to me on 25 May…Ms Mason deliberately deceived me when she told me on 25 May, that she had made specific enquiries with WPHS, with regard to my footwear requirements due to my disability. Ms Mason did not mention the WPHS directive she had issued to me… My solicitor pointed out the erroneous content of Ms Mason’s letter to me dated 25 May…It was established that CN Clench of Sandgate had initiated Ms Mason’s decision to place restrictions on my footwear…
the cover-up of the truth of Ms Mason’s discrimination against me, could only be effective with the ADCQ’s cooperation…the ADCQ conciliation conference had been pre-determined by the Commission, my complaint was to be finalised that day and I was to be prevented from having my complaint decided by a Tribunal…it is essential, if the truth is ever to be uncovered, that a full and independent enquiry be conducted.”
On 5 January 2004, seven months later, my appeal was responded to by Mr D J Bevan the Ombudsman:
Although I was unaware of Mr King’s ‘Extract of complaint', Mr Bevan must surely have become aware when reviewing Mr King’s decision, and must surely have observed that Dr Youngman had not acknowledged or addressed any one of the 26 items of concern contained in the 'Extract'.
I responded to Mr Bevan:
“…the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 did not prevent agents of my employer QH from deliberately and methodically discriminating against me…The Commissioner had accepted my complaint based on my belief that WPHS had not given Ms Mason a directive that my prescription footwear would no longer be allowed…Mr King omitted the erroneous content of that letter when he referred to it…The Commission…would not allow the erroneous content contained in Ms Mason’s letter to me, dated 25 May to be questioned or discussed…It may have required considerable resources to have been devoted by you to investigate...the outcome may have prevented another QH employee from having to endure the unlawful type of discrimination I was subjected to. I have waited three and a half years for you to finally decide not to investigate…"
Mr Bevan notified me:
"...no purpose would be served by your making any further submissions..."
I wrote a ten page letter to the Crime and Misconduct Commission regarding the protection afforded to Queensland Health by the ADCQ and the Queensland Ombudsman which provided Queensland Health with impunity from addressing the content of correspondence which had been deliberately removed from the discrimination investigation.
I forwarded a copy of the letter to:
The Queensland Attorney-General, Mr R J Welford;
The Leader of the Opposition, Mr L Springborg
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Mr R Quinn.
Included in the letter were the documents containing information Ms Mason had withheld from the ADCQ, the subsequent suppression of those documents during the ADCQ conference, by the two Queensland Health representatives who had previously retrieved them from Ms Mason's office at Keperra; and the seemingly deliberate agenda of each investigation to totally disregard Ms Mason’s deceptive claim in her letter dated 25 May 1998.
Because I had no knowledge of the Ombudsman's 'Extract of Complaint' until released in 2007 I did not include Dr J Youngman’s suppression of the 26 items of concern raised by the Ombudsman.
Queensland Health's provision of my personnel file to Ms Mason for nine months was included but her covert possession of the file was not known until the later searches concluded the file had not, as claimed HRS Manager Mr S Donovan, signed out by Queensland Health to Ms Mason.
I also advised of my solicitor’s confirmation, provided to the Ombudsman, that the ADCQ had pre-determined the outcome of the conference; my complaint, which was not to be afforded the opportunity of a tribunal hearing would be dismissed as lacking in substance if I failed to reach an agreement with Queensland Health.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition responded:
The Leader of the Opposition responded:
The Attorney-General responded:
I asked the Attorney-General to use his powers to do what he could about the seemingly flawed investigative techniques which excluded evidence.
The Attorney-General said he could do nothing: