Bullying fallout continues

The fallout continues from bullying allegations in Bega Valley Shire Council libraries as two local women continue to press their cases for recognition of the workplace issues they experienced while working in council’s libraries.

Both women, Rose Ferguson, of Pambula Beach and Amanda Midlam, of Eden, claim they experienced bullying behaviour while working as casual librarians and both are unhappy about the way council has responded to their claims.

In Ms Ferguson’s case, she is angry about comments made by council’s group manager community and relations, Leanne Barnes, on local ABC radio, on Friday, June 10, denying Ms Ferguson ever made a complaint.

Ms Ferguson worked as a casual librarian in the shire during 2008. She said after experiencing bullying she resigned but decided to tell council’s human resources department about the bullying issues.

Ms Ferguson said: “I decided to make an appointment to see someone in human resources to explain the reasons for my resignation. I spent a very ‘formal’ 30 minutes of my own time, explaining my reasons for leaving.

Ms Ferguson said: “The HR person said “they” couldn’t understand the fairly high, casual staff turnover and explained that no sooner were the library casuals trained, they would leave within a short time, similar to me. He said this could be the problem and assured me that “it” would be definitely looked into and dealt with and added that the staff member concerned would be put on a people’s skills course.”

But despite this meeting, Ms Barnes said on air that no formal complaint was ever made by Ms Ferguson and that there were no records of a complaint. The officer concerned that Ms Ferguson spoke to in 2008 still works for council but is on long service leave.

Ms Ferguson said: “How dare she deny I ever made a ‘formal’ complaint. I did make a formal complaint to council regarding bullying. Ms Barnes seems very reluctant to acknowledge the incompetence in failing to document my formal complaint.”

It was after reading Ms Midlam’s story in the News Weekly that Ms Ferguson spoke to Ms Barnes in support of Ms Midlam.

In the meantime, Ms Midlam is continuing to call for answers to her questions about the way she was treated and also for Ms Barnes to give more information about Brian Davis, who conducted the investigation in her bullying case.

Ms Midlam said: “I was not prepared for this domineering man to tell me the culture of the workplace had nothing to do with my complaint. I kept telling the truth but felt like a criminal being examined by a police detective. It was another really horrible experience.”

In an email to Ms Barnes, Ms Midlam has called on her to reveal more about Mr Davis.

“Part of my job at the library was to help people access information and I have tried to find information about him but I can’t. If he offered a reputable service surely there’d be information readily available about him.”

She added that as ratepayers footed the bill they should know the cost.