The Teachers Are Blowing Their Whistles!

Subtitle

Why did Gavin Woods, deputy principal at Burpengary State School, suicide?

Gavin Woods was born in Brisbane on 19 January 1965.

Gavin was the eldest of three children.

He spent his primary school years in Harrisville, west of Ipswich.

When Gavin was 13, his father was killed in a trucking accident.

 

 

Gavin's mother Donna later met Ray - a man Gavin described as his "biggest inspiration" - and the family moved to Sydney to start a new life with Ray and his sons Bill and Dean.

While at Heathcote High School, Gavin began to think of becoming a teacher, but he didn't have the confidence.

 

Gavin had an accident himself at age 20, spending a year rehabilitating from spinal injuries.

The injuries left him in pain.

Gavin needed to take pain-killers for the rest of his life. 

 

1994 : At the age of 29, Gavin Woods returned to study - first at TAFE and then at University.

At age 29, Gavin went back to school so he could realise a teaching career he dreamed about.

 

 

First Gavin studied at TAFE to complete Years 11 and 12.

Then he worked two jobs to put himself through university.

 

Gavin graduated in 1999 with the Griffith University award for academic excellence.

 

 

Inquest hears workplace bullying a factor in suicide, Rae Wilson, The Ipswich Advertiser, 23 July, 2013

2000 - Gavin Woods worked as a teacher-principal at Dimbulah State School.
Obituary: Gavin Woods 

After university, Gavin Woods took up a position at Dimbulah State School.

Dimbulah State School had no computers in those days, so Mr Woods scrounged around at garage sales and shops buying broken computers and parts so his students had the same opportunities as their city counterparts.

Gavin's computer skills were an asset to all of his schools.

 

 

Andrea Malfliet 

 

Gavin met and fell in love with his partner Andrea Malfliet while he was at Dibulah.

                                                            

Coroner's inquest ordered into death of Burpengary State School deputy principal Gavin Woods, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 7 May 2012

2002 : After he became a teacher Gavin began to take anti-depressants.
Gavin Woods began taking anti-depressants in 2002, after he became a teacher.
 
Gavin continued to take anti-depressants until his death.
(I am not clear to what extent the anti-depressants were to deal with Gavin's continual back pain after the accident.)
 
Robina Cosser says : I believe Gavin's story raises questions concerning the anti-depressant drugs that so many Australians are using.
Are these drugs effective?
Do we understand their side-effects?
Is the use of these drugs being properly monitored?
 
In Queensland, almost 88,000 more anti-depressants were purchased in the 2012-2013 financial year than 2007-2008.
 
Cori Bargmann of Manhattan's Rockerfeller University has described the dismal state of the psychiatric drugs being taken by millions of people across the world.
 
"The drugs used in psychiatry now were basically discovered accidentally in the search for heart medications in the 1970s. There hasn't been a fundamentally new discovery since then, only improvements in exising kinds of drugs. If we understood the rules and processes of how the brain works normally, we'd be able to use more rational approaches in developing medications."
 
Nearly half of the principals in Australia's 10,000 schools - nearly 5000 Australian school principals - take prescription medication for a diagnosed condition, according to The Australian Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey conducted by Monash University.
 
 
The implication (of the Courier Mail article by Peter Michael detailed below) is that a good proportion of this medication is for stress.
 
 
 
Coroner hears that deputy principal post not the best move for teacher who is believed to have committed suicide, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 26 January 2013 
School principals bullied and assaulted by parents, Peter Michael, P.7, The Courier Mail, 3 July 2013
Lives : New Frontier, Rebecca Johnson, PP 178-186, Vogue, October 2013
Pill Popping : We're a leading state of depression, Brittany Vonow, P 10, The Sunday Mail, 17 November 2013
2003 : Gavin became teacher-principal at Irvinebank.

In 2003 Gavin Woods was appointed teacher-principal at Irvinebank State School on the western Atherton Tableland - one of the smallest schools in Queensland.

Gavin Woods has been described as an inspirational teacher who went above and beyond his duty for students in positions as a teacher-principal at a number of small Queensland schools.

Mr Woods made successful attempts to re-engage challenging boys and get them back into the classroom.

One of their fathers traveled from North Queensland to Gavin Woods' funeral to say thank you for turning his son's life around.

 

 

Coroner's inquest ordered into death of Burpengary State School deputy principal Gavin Woods, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 7 May 2012

Gavin also worked at Mt Molloy State School.

While at Mt Molloy State School, northwest of Cairns, where some students came from underprivileged backgrounds, Mr Woods brought in breakfast and lunch, while convincing Colgate to donate toothbrushes and toothpaste for his kids.

 

Coroner's inquest ordered into death of Burpengary State School deputy principal Gavin Woods, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 7 May 2012

2009 : Mr Woods was promoted to deputy principal at Whitfield State School in Cairns.

Gavin Woods had been given straight "A's" for his work as a small school principal.

Whitfield State School principal Tony Constance had been on the panel that selected Gavin Woods to be deputy principal at Whitfield State School.

 

The Whitfield State School students "really loved Gavin" according to Mrs Bradford, his fellow Deputy-Principal.

Alison Bradford, Gavin Woods's fellow deputy at Whitfied State School, got on really well with Gavin.

Alison Bradford, Gavin Woods's fellow deputy principal at Whitfield State School, told the Brisbane Coroner's court that she had got on really well with Gavin Woods when she had worked with him at Whitfield.

Mrs Bradford described Gavin as easy-going, dedicated and very hands-on.

 

 

 Qld principal laments deputy's suicide, Miranda Forster, AAP, July 22 2013  

Partner of former Burpengary State School deputy principal Gavin Woods tells Coroner's inquest that workplace bullying contributed to his death , Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 23 July 2013
But Gavin's relationship with Tony Constance, principal of Whitfield State School, deteriorated.

Mr Constance felt that Gavin spent too long talking to poorly-behaved students, trying to understand their reasons for misbehaving.

Mr Constance felt that the children needed to be back in their classroom.

 

Mr Constance was also concerned that Gavin was not getting the teacher-aide timetables done.

Mr Constance showed Gavin how him to run teacher-aide meetings.

The teacher-aides had wanted to raise a union issue.

(I understood Mr Constance to say that another Deputy-Principal had also struggled to manage the teacher-aides, and that it was a difficult job.)

 

And Mr Constance felt that Gavin struggled to keep up with the curriculum. 

Mr Constance criticised Gavin's maths curriculum, which he said was a 'cut and paste' from another school.

 

 

Robina Cosser says : As a teacher, I know that actually this 'cut and paste' from documents being used at other schools is very common. 

Schools do not have the time to write every document from scratch.

 

"It got to the stage where Gavin couldn't really go off and do anything by himself without feeling that Tony was watching over him all the time," commented Alison Bradford, a fellow deputy principal at Whitfield State School.

Ms Bradford said she believed the relationship between Mr Woods and Mr Constance "had quite broken down'' and that was the reason why Gavin took leave, because he possibly didn't feel supported by the principal.

 

 

Mrs Bradford said she had spoken to the Executive Director in 2010 to tell her she was concerned about the relationship.

 

 

Andrea Malfliet Andrea Malfliet said she feared for Gavin's health as the relationship between Gavin and his principal Tony Constance declined at Whitfield.

Ms Malfliet said that Gavin had an old-fashioned respect for his boss.

Gavin really cared if his boss criticised him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Qld principal laments deputy's suicide, Miranda Forster, AAP, July 22 2013  

Partner of former Burpengary State School deputy principal Gavin Woods tells Coroner's inquest that workplace bullying contributed to his death , Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 23 July 2013
26 June 2010 : Gavin Woods told his GP that he was being bullied at Whitfield State School.
 
On 26 June 2010 Gavin Woods, then a deputy principal at Whitfield State School, attended his regular GP who recorded he was "being bullied at work by the principal''.
The GP told the court that this was when Gavin began to deteriorate.
 
Gavin told his GP that other teachers at Whitfield State School were going through similar issues.
 
 
Other Whitfield State School staff members were on sick leave and leave without pay because they felt that they had been bullied.
 
 
 
Coroner hears that deputy principal post not the best move for teacher who is believed to have committed suicide, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 26 January 2013 
Gavin Woods went on stress leave.

Gavin took stress leave.

He applied for a transfer.

 

 

 Qld principal laments deputy's suicide, Miranda Forster, AAP, July 22 2013  

Partner of former Burpengary State School deputy principal Gavin Woods tells Coroner's inquest that workplace bullying contributed to his death , Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 23 July 2013
27 July 2010 : Scott Rodgers, Education Queensland Human Resource officer, Far North Queensland, emailed Gavin.

Scott Rodgers emailed Gavin Woods.

Scott Rodgers told Gavin that he needed to give more information in his transfer application.

 

Andrea Malfliet had also requested a transfer in 2011.

29 July 2010 : Gavin went back to his GP.

Gavin's GP said that Gavin was reluctant to see a psychologist. 

Gavin told his GP that he knew him and he had faith in him.

2 August 2010 : Gavin went back to his GP.

Gavin was sleepy with Mogadon.

Mogadon is a tranquilliser.

The package instructions say that Mogadon should not be used by anybody with a psychiatric illness.

And it should be used with care by anybody suffering from depression or who has recently suffered the loss of a close friend or relative.

Gavin told his GP that he could not face work.

Gavin was not sure about WorkCover.

He knew that harassment claims were difficult to prove.

And it takes energy and perseverance to make a WorkCover claim and Gavin did not have it.

He was worried that his mental health would be affected by making a WorkCover claim.

Gavin told his GP that he was not suicidal, but his GP asked him to come back in three days.

.

The Department of Education paid for Gavin Woods to visit a psychologist.

Gavin told the psychologist that he was having difficulties with his boss.

The psychologist noted that Gavin was agitated.

He jumped from one subject to another.

He was shaky.

Gavin said he had no other problems, apart from his problems with his boss.

The psychologist thought Gavin had the symptoms of a major depressive disorder.

 

Gavin's return to work was a medical issue, so the psychologist spoke to Gavin's GP.

The GP and the psychologist discussed changing Gavin's medication.

But they agreed to wait to see how Gavin responded to the psychological strategies.

They knew that next school term (Term 4 2010) Gavin would be having a fresh start at a different school.

5 August 2010 : Gavin went back to see his GP.

The Education Queensland-funded psychologist had given Gavin four weeks off work.

Gavin seemed to his GP to have 'turned the corner'.

He was laughing.

 

19 August 2010 : Gavin's second meeting with the psychologist.

Gavin was on sick leave.

He was worrying about the sick leave.

But Gavin seemed to be less depressed and to be doing more.

The psychologist suggested a strategy to deal with negative thinking to Gavin.

The psychologist was aimimg to improve Gavin's mood at this point in time.

 

 

 

Gavin now seemed to the psychologist to have an 'adjustment disorder with anxiety and depression'.

20 August 2010 : Gavin went to his GP.

Gavin's GP and he agreed that he should avoid WorkCover because Gavin probably was not strong enough.

Gavin's GP told the court that he would never have pressed Gavin to return to work till he was ready.

Late August 2010 : Andrea Malfliet got a transfer for 2011.

Andrea had got her transfer for the next year.

But Scott Rodgers knew that Gavin Woods was off sick.

And Queensland teachers are not usually relocated if they are on sick leave - unless the Return To Work process is progressing well.

6 September 2010 : Gavin's GP said Gavin could return to work, but not at Whitfield State School.

Gavin's GP filled in a Work Capability form.

This form seems to be part of the Return To Work (RTW) process.

Gavin's GP stated that Gavin could return to work with no limitations apart from his place of work.

He could not return to Whitfield State School.

 

16 September 2010 : Gavin's third meeting with the psychologist.

Gavin was feeling stressed because Tony Constance had not signed off on his transfer application.

Gavin felt that he was being punished.

 

The psychologist suggested strategies to manage his mood.

The psychologist asked Gavin to try to think of other possible reasons why the principal may not have signed the form.

Gavin was also worried about his WorkCover claim.

Gavin was worried that Tony Constance would deny everything.

Gavin had to nominate witnesses.

He was worried that this would put other Whitfield teachers in a difficult position.

He was worried about repercussions for any teacher who was nominated as a witnesses.

 

The psychologist thought that the WorkCover claim process had made Gavin more stressed.

But Gavin did not seem to be suicidal.

 

4 October 2010 : Gavin spent Term Four 2010 at a different Cairns school.
Scott Rodgers, the Education Queensland Human Resources Officer for Far North Queensland, spoke to Gavin.

Scott Rodgers visited the Cairns school where Gavin Woods was based in Term Four 2010.

He had a discussion with Gavin about his options for next term.

All options were on the table.

Scott Rodgers discussed the possibility of Gavin returning to Whitfield State School if his WorkCover claim was dismissed.

Scott Rodgers could see that Gavin was distressed at the idea of returning to Whitfield State School.

Gavin told Scott Rodgers that he was willing to drop a band to get a relocation.

WorkCover did not accept Gavin Woods' workplace harassment claim.
Gavin Woods' WorkCover claim alleging workplace harassment was not accepted.

The WorkCover investigation cleared Whitfield State School principal Tony Constance of 20 allegations of workplace bullying.

 

Andrea Malfliet  

Andrea Malfliet comments : Gavin had not understood the WorkCover process.

Gavin had expected WorkCover to investigate his complaint.

But WorkCover expected Gavin to provide them with witness statements.

Gavin felt very reluctant to ask other Whitfield State School teachers to give him witness statements because he knew that the teachers would then have to remain at the school.

 

Gavin's GP told the court that when his WorkCover complaint was refused "Mr Woods reached his lowest point".

Gavin's psychologist and his GP both believe that the WorkCover process is too stressful.

 

People who make WorkCover claims have to re-live their experiences.

Many people find this process stressful.

There is a general reluctance to make a WorkCover claim because it is such a stressful process.

 

 

 

WorkCover accepted 442 psychological injury claims made by Queensland state sector teachers, deputy principals, principals and teacher aides between the 2007 to 2008 and 2011 to 2012 financial years.

But WorkCover rejected another 491 psychological injury claims.

Queensland Teachers Union president Kevin Bates said a significant number of the 442 accepted psychological claims had been 'rejected' before the QTU helped appeal them.

Many QTU members didn't lodge WorkCover claims because so many are rejected.

 

 

Robina Cosser says : If the Queensland Teachers Union know that a significant number of psychological claims will be rejected and that the union will have to help members to re-submit the claims, why don't the QTU support members from the start - why make QTU members go through this very stressful WorkCover process twice?

 

 

Teachers paid more than $10m in compo over five years due to violence in Queensland schools, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 15 July 2013

Qld principal laments deputy's suicide, Miranda Forster, AAP, July 22 2013  

Coroner hears that deputy principal post not the best move for teacher who is believed to have committed suicide, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 26 January 2013 
Q-Comp did not accept Gavin Woods' workplace harassment appeal.
Gavin Woods' Q-Comp appeal was knocked back.
 
  
 
Coroner hears that deputy principal post not the best move for teacher who is believed to have committed suicide, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 26 January 2013 
The Queensland Department of Education Ethical Standards unit said that "there was not enough information provided to raise suspicion of misconduct".
 
The Education Queensland Ethical standards Department advised there was not enough information provided to raise suspicion and misconduct regarding the principal, but the matter was suitable for managerial and management actions.
 
Robina Cosser says :  We need some research into Education Queensland Ethical Standards Department investigations.
Are these Ethical Conduct Department investigations of a professional standard?

 
Coroner hears that deputy principal post not the best move for teacher who is believed to have committed suicide, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 26 January 2013 
6 October 2010 : Gavin's fourth meeting with the psychologist.

Gavin told the psychologist that he was feeling very positive about his experience at the new Cairns school.

The principal treated him with respect.

He was not being micromanaged.

 

But Gavin's WorkCover complaint had been rejected.

Gavin believed the principal had lied.

He was upset.

 

This was the last appointment to be funded by Education Queensland.

But the psychologist had not worked with Gavin on relapse prevention.

Gavin was vulnerable to relapse, but was safe to return to a different workplace.

The psychologist discussed the possibility of getting medicare funding for more appointments.

 

The psychologist was not aware that Gavin had a family history of suicide.

1 November 2010 : Gavin went to see his GP.

Gavin still had anxiety and depression.

His doctor wondered if his medication should be changed, but decided not to change Gavin's medication because he wanted him to be stable.

The doctor was worried that Gavin might suffer very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

29 November 2010 : Gavin went to see his GP.

Gavin told his GP that he had accidentaly stopped taking his anti-depressant.

 

Andrea Malfliet thinks that Gavin stopped taking his medication at the end of 2010 because he was feeling so much better at the second Cairns school.

 

But WorkCover would not investigate any new evidence during Gavin's appeal.

And Gavin was crying and upset by this decision. 

He wanted WorkCover to investigate the other Whitfield State School teachers who were off work.

This seemed like a good opportunity to change Gavin's medication, so his GP changed his anti-depressant.

Gavin was given a low dose of the new anti-depressant Lexapro at first.

 

Gavin's GP asked to see him again in two weeks.

Gavin knew that his GP was expecting him to come back.

But this was the last time that Gavin's GP saw Gavin.

Gavin does not seem to have visited any other GP before his death on or around June 9 2011.

 

17 December : Gavin's GP authorised repeats of Lexapro.

Gavin's GP authorised 5 repeats of the Lexapro prescription.

The Lexapro website warns that Lexapro is associated with an increased risk of suicidal thoughts.

 

Gavin's six-month prescription for Lexapro may just have run out at the time of his death in June 2011.

Could Gavin have been suffering from withdrawal symptoms?

Andrea Malfliet thinks not - the expert psychiatrist seemed to think that the problem was that the dose was too low.

Meanwhile, in 2010 at Burpengary State School -
At Burpengary State School, another Queensland teacher had made a complaint.
 
That teacher's complaint ended in a settlement. 
 
Four or five other teachers had also complained.
 
And so Paula Passi, the principal at Burpengary state school, had a disciplinary sanction placed on her.
 
The disciplinary sanction was suspended subject to the satisfactory implementation of a training plan over a period of 12 months.
 
Mrs Susanne Pearce, Executive Director School Improvement, was responsible for Paula Passi's training plan during the second semester of 2010.
 
Mrs Pearce and Paula Passi met weekly.
 
Paula Passi told the coroner that Mrs Pearce was concerned for her (Paula Passi's) health.
 
Mrs Pearce "wanted to know how Paula Passi's day was".
 
They talked about staffing for 2011.
 
According to Mrs Pearce, they discussed Professional Development Frameworks.
 
But Mrs Passi told the coroner that she could not remember if PDF's had been discussed.
 
Paula Passi remembered discussing Performance Management.
 
Paula Passi and Mrs Pearce looked at commonality of practice.
 
They discussed looking at staff members' positives as well as their negatives.
 
"Being in the game for a long time you look for those positives", Mrs Passi told the coroner.
 
Paula Passi and Susanne Pearce discussed how Mrs Passi's behaviour was perceived by some members of staff.
 
They discussed Mrs Passi's directness.
 
They discussed how to become less direct while not losing the message.
 
Mrs Passi and Mrs Pearce had a detailed discussion about her treatment of one teacher (Teacher 1).
 
Teacher 1 had been 'a poor fit' at Burpengary State School.
 
Mrs Pearce told Mrs Passi that her behaviour had been appropriate.
 
A second teacher had made a complaint (Teacher 2).
 
He had been transferred.
 
Paula Passi was told she had handled the situation appropriately.
 
A third teacher had complained (Teacher 3).
 
Mrs Pearce told Paula Passi that she had handled the situation appropriately.
 
Susanne Pearce signed off on the training plan after six months.
 
Susanne Pearce's training plan was never documented.
When she was asked if the training plan had been effective, Mrs Passi told the court that the training plan had been intended to safeguard her health.
 
But Paula Passi had been given a warning letter - if there were any further issues it would be taken very seriously.
 
Coroner hears that deputy principal post not the best move for teacher who is believed to have committed suicide, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 26 January 2013 
January 2011 : Gavin Woods was given a transfer away from Whitfield State School - he was sent to Burpengary State School.

Gavin Woods was not entitled to a transfer out of Whitfield State School.

It is the Queensland Department of Education policy that all teachers stay at their school for at least three years.

Even if they are not happy and do not get on well with the school principal.

The only way that Gavin Woods could escape from the situation at Whitfied State School was if his partner, Andea Malfliet, applied for a transfer.

Then Gavin could also request a "compassionate" transfer away from Whitfield State School.

So Andrea applied for a transfer.

And, when Andrea was given a transfer, that enabled Gavin to escape from the situation at Whitfield State School.

 

 

Andrea was granted moving expenses by the education department.

Gavin was not granted moving expenses because his move was "compassionate".

During the move, there was some damage to their furniture.

Fortunately this was convered by insurance.

Gavin's boat was also damaged in the move.

The boat had been delivered after dark and Gavin had signed for the delivery without checking for damage.

When he discovered the damage the next day, he was told that it was his responsibility to pay for the repairs because he had signed for the delivery without checking the boat for damage.

Gavin and Andrea rented a property, but it had been double-booked, and so they unexpectedly had to relocate after the first two months.

Gavin had to spend a lot of time on the phone, trying to sort out these various problems.

 

So Gavin's escape from Whitfield State School involved a lot of stress and expense for the couple.

By February Gavin had "maxed out" his credit cards and their financial difficulties were causing problems in their relationship.

 

And Andrea had moved away from her home, her friends and her family.

Burpengary State School staff had been trying out a new curriculum - the National Curriculum.

Gavin was a Band 6 Principal.

His position at Burpengary was actually for a Band 7 Principal.

Mrs Susanne Pearce, Executive Director School Improvement (now retired) told the Coroner's Inquest that the duties of a Band 6 principal and a Band 7 Principal were different.

Band 7 Principals take on more duties.

 

Burpengary State School was a "Trial School" for a new curriculum - the National Curriculum.

The school had been using the National Curriculum for a year.

Gavin Woods had no experience of the National Curriculum.

This was going to prove to be a significant problem.

March 2011 : Another Burpengary teacher complained to the Department.

Another Burpengary Teacher ('the first 2011 teacher') had complained to the Department.

Mr Ken Collier, Assistant Regional Director, North Coast Region, came to Burpengary State School.

Mrs Passi told the court that the first 2011 teacher was very confrontational.

The teacher had raised issues.

 

Mrs Passi said that Mr Collier gave her no advice.

Paula Passi told Mr Collier that she did not want to "go down the path of the previous year - it had made her ill."

 

Mrs Lyn Mellors, Gavin's fellow deputy-principal, had no complaints about anything with Gavin.

Gavin was working in a team with Mrs Lyn Mellors, a fellow deputy-principal at Burpengary.
 
Lyn Mellors told the Coroner's court she had no complaints about anything concerning Gavin.
Lyn Mellors said she missed Gavin.
 
So, you may wonder - if Gavin's working partner had no problems with his work, what was the problem?
 
But for some reason Burpengary State School principal Paula Passi became 'dissatisfied' with Gavin Woods around March or April 2011.
 

Coroner hears that deputy principal post not the best move for teacher who is believed to have committed suicide, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 26 January 2013 
At the end of March / Early April 2011, Paula Passi rang Tony Constance to talk about Gavin.

Paula Passi rang Tony Constance, principal of Whitfield State School, to discuss Gavin.

Mrs Passi told the court that she rang Tony Constance because she had "reached the point of real concern".

She wanted to speak to somebody who had managed Gavin before.

Mr Constance said that the conversation lasted 10-15 minutes.

Paula Passi said that the conversation lasted 45 minutes.

Paula Passi said that Mr Constance told her that he knew she would ring him one day.

Mr Constance later told the coroner's inquest, via videolink from Cairns, that Ms Passi had rung him because Mr Woods was struggling with curriculum knowledge, student behaviour management and with internet use.

Mr Constance said he too had curriculum issues and had tried to coach Mr Woods through those, as well as problems with him managing teacher aides properly.

But when Ms Passi allegedly questioned whether Mr Woods was "power-tripping" with students, Mr Constance said he had the opposite problem.

Mr Constance said Mr Woods would take too long trying to find the root of a child's misbehaviour and kept the chidren out of class too long.

Gavin was unable to manage indigenous children - they lacked respect for him.

(But Gavin's fellow deputy at Whitfied State School, Ms Bradford, said that the Whitfield State School students really loved Gavin.)

Gavin tried to be the children's friend.

Mr Constance also told Paula Passi that Gavin "blocked the productivity of the other deputy".

 

And Mr Constance did not like the way that Gavin used the school as a delivery depot. 

Gavin would order gadgets such as ipods and have them delivered to the school.

 

Mr Constance believed that Gavin "lacked the intellectual capacity to do the job".

Mr Constance told Paula Passi he had advised the Education Queensland Regional Director, Far North Queensland, that he was going to put Gavin Woods in a Diminished Workplace Performance (DWP - now called Managing Unsatisfactory Performance or MUP)  process.

 

But Paula Passi told the court a slightly different version of this conversation - Mrs Passi had understood Tony Constance to tell her that the formal MUP process had not started, but he had advised Gavin Woods that he would begin the Managing Unsatisfactory Process, and that he had also advised the Regional Director, Far North Queensland of this decision.

And that Gavin had left the school that afternoon and he never saw him again.

 

Paula Passi asked Tony Constance how a person who was on the MUP could be given a transfer. (Teachers who are on MUP are not supposed to be moved.)

Tony Constance said it had been taken out of his hands.

Tony Constance told Paula Passi that Gavin had made a WorkCover claim.

(I understood Mr Constance to say that the WorkCover claim was made after he had told Gavin there were some issues.)

Tony Constance had had to respond to the WorkCover claim.

There had been allegations of bullying.

There had been an investigation and the WorkCover claim had been dismissed.

 

Paula Passi told the court that she became worried that a WorkCover complaint might be made against her.

She said that a WorkCover complaint is notoriously stressful for everybody concerned.

Mr Constance told Paula Passi that he felt bad that another region had to deal with Gavin Woods.

He had been concerned about signing the re-location form.

I presume that Mr Constance did not know about the history of problems at Burpengary State School, and that Mrs Passi did not explain this situation to Mr Constance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andrea Malfliet Andrea Malfliet said Gavin worried that the phone conversations Ms Passi had with Mr Constance had clouded Ms Passi's view of him.

"He felt no matter where he would go Tony would poison people's view of him," she said.

 

"I kept saying you're not going back to that school next term, that's not an option.

"I can't say I told him to see someone. I should of, and I wish I had."

 

  

Inquest hears workplace bullying a factor in suicide, Rae Wilson, The Ipswich Advertiser, 23 July, 2013

13 April 2011 Paula Passi phoned Ken Collier, Assistant Regional Director, North Coast Region. 

Ken Collier told the Coroner's Court that Paula Passi phoned him on 13 April to discuss her concerns about Gavin Woods.

Paula Passi told Ken Collier that she had spoken to Tony Constance.

Paula Passi told him that she had concerns about Gavin Woods' Curriculum skills and behaviour management.

14 or 15 April 2011 : Steve Cook and Mr Ken Collier met Paula Passi.

Paula Passi wanted to put Gavin Woods on MUP after nine weeks at Burpengary State School.

Steve Cook, Regional Human Resources Manager for the North Coast Region, and Ken Collier, Assistant Regional Director, North Coast Region, met Paula Passi to discuss the Gavin Woods situation and the Code of Conduct.

Paula Passi told them that she knew about the WorkCover complaint that Gavin had made at Whitfield State School.

Mrs Passi told the Coroner's Inquest that the two men were "very deadpan".

She wanted clarification.

She wanted them to find out if Gavin was on the MUP.

Paula Passi told the Coroner's Inquest that she felt that this was a very unsatisfactory meeting.

She felt that Steve Cook and Ken Collier showed no concern for the job ahead of her.

Paula Passi told the Coroner's Inquest that after this meeting she felt fearful.

She felt that people were out to get her.

She felt quite desolate.

The MUP was the last thing that she wanted to do.

She had been through an 18 month Ethical Standards investigation.

Ken Collier and Steve Cook had a Duty of Care to her.

They should have known how stressful the MUP process was for principals.

 

 

Steve Cook told the Coroner's Inquest a slightly different version of this meeting.

Steve Cook told the court that Paula Passi told them that she was intending to put Gavin Woods on Diminished Workplace Performance (DWP).

 

And Paula Passi also told them that the Burpengary office staff suspected Gavin Woods of stealing some chocolate money.

 

Steve Cook told the Coroner's Inquest that he and Ken Collier told Paula Passi that before she put Gavin Woods on DWP, Gavin should be given the opportunity to improve his performance.

Gavin should have a PDF - Performance Development Framework.

Steve Cook was concerned that Gavin's PDF had him working in a Learning Support Classroom.

Steve Cook did not think that working in a Learning Support Classroom should be part of the PDF for a deputy principal.

 

Steve Cook told the court that Paula Passi was told to bring her performance in line with the Code of Conduct. 

16 April 2011 " Paula Passi received a letter to advise her that Gavin Woods had been permanently appointed to Burpengary State School.
Paula Passi told the Coroner's Inquest that, the day after the meeting with Steve Cook and Ken Collier, a letter arrived to advise her that Gavin Woods had been permanently appointed to Burpengary State School.
11 May 2011 (approx) Paula Passi gave Gavin Woods a letter, asking him to meet her and listing several 'concerns'.

Mrs Passi told the court that "the events of 2009" (this seems to have been a previous investigation into a problem at burpengary state School) were on her mind after speaking to Tony Constance, Mr Cook and Mr Collier.

Mr Cook had told her that he expected the Professional Development Framework to precede the MUP process.

There was a need for something to judge Gavin's success or failure against.

Mrs Passi was very anxious to handle the situation using the correct protocol.

That is why she gave Gavin a copy of her concerns in writing.

 

 

 

The meeting with Gavin Woods to discuss Paula Passi's "List of Concerns" letter was to be in two weeks' time.

So Gavin would have worried about this meeting - and Mrs Passi's allegations - for two weeks before the meeting.

25 May 2011 Paula Passi met Gavin to discuss her 'concerns'.

One day before the meeting, Paula Passi asked the Burpengary State School Queensland Teachers Union representative, Paul Woodrow, to attend the "List of concerns" meeting with Gavin Woods.

So Gavin had a 'support person' at the meeting, but Paula Passi had chosen his support person.

Paul Woodrow did not know Gavin Woods very well.

 

 

 

Gavin Woods gave Paula Passi a letter at the start of the meeting.

(I presume this was his written response to her allegations.)

Paula Passi said she would read Gavin's letter later.

 

Then Mrs Passi discussed her allegations -

 

The Burpengary Sports Day

Gavin wore football shorts on Sports Day.

He should have worn dress shorts, a tie and shoes instead of boots.

Mrs Passi said Gavin was very apologetic about his Sports Day clothes.

 

Robina Cosser says : As a teacher, I wonder if Gavin wore football shorts partly because it was sports day and he wanted to look suitably dressed for sport?

I wonder if the children liked to see Gavin dressed in this way - was Gavin a 'blokey' male role model for the children? 

Is this why the children liked Gavin so much?

And I also wonder if Gavin had to lift sports equipment about during the day, so good clothes would have been damaged.

 

Gavin put the Sports Day medals on the ground rather than on a table.

Why didn't Paula Passi get a table herself, or ask another teacher to organise a table?

 

Gavin did not introduce the P and C president.

Had Gavin been told that he should do this?

Had Gavin been given any information about what was expected of him as MC at his first Burpengary sports day?

Why not?

Surely this was not Gavin's failing, but Paula Passi's failure to properly organise the Sports Day?

 

Gavin handed out the awards himself rather than asking the P and C president to hand out the awards.

Robina Cosser says : Events like Sports Days take so much organisation, so much really hard work by teachers.

Surely there were things that went well on Sports Day?

Surely Mrs Passi could have thanked Gavin for his hard work on Sports day?

As a teacher, my heart goes out to Gavin when I hear this Sports Day story.

 

The Missing Chocolate Money :

Money collected from the sale of chocolates was kept in a security room.

Five office staff, Mrs Passi, Gavin and one other male teacher were the only people who had access to this security room.

 

Some chocolate money - (I understand it was $20-$30) - had allegedly gone missing.

The office staff said they had not taken the money. 

Gavin was alleged to have told another teacher that chocolates were kept in the security room.

 

Paul Woodrow - another Burpengary teacher who had access to the security room - was never questioned about the missing money.

No other teacher or office worker was given a formal letter about the missing money.

No other teacher or office worker was called to a formal meeting to discuss the missing money.

No other teacher or officer worker had to wait for two weeks with these allegations hanging over their head before they were allowed to say that they knew nothing about the missing money.

No other teacher or office worker was questioned about the allegedly missing money in front of a union representative.

No other teacher or office worker has any official record on their departmental file concerning the missing money.

Steve Cook and Ken Collier were told that the office staff suspected Gavin Woods of stealing the chocolate money. You may think that Gavin Woods was being denied natural justice and defamed by this gossip.

The police were not called to check fingerprints, etc.

 

Roxie Borserini was present at this meeting.

Roxie Borserini told the coroner that Mrs Passi talked to Gavin Woods about the missing chocolate money and then asked Gavin if he could tell her anything about it.

Gavin made no comment.

He just stared ahead.

Roxie Borserini said that she did not think this was an unusual reaction.

She presumed that Gavin was just thinking it through.

But Gavin had already had two weeks to think through - and worry about - this allegation.

Then Gavin said "I don't know anything about any missing chocolate money".

 

Paul Woodrow said Mrs Passi was forthright and straight to the point when she discussed the allegedly missing money.

Paul Woodrow said Gavin was a little indignant.

Gavin said his good name was being blackened.

He asked for an apology.

Gavin was upset by the allegations.

Mrs Passi did not apologise.

She said there was "no evidence, as such" and "it was inconclusive".

She said it was "closed".

But, of course, the allegations would always remain on Gavin's official records.

 

Internet use :

Gavin used his computer during school hours.

Mrs Passi had asked for a print out of Gavin's internet use records.

Paul Woodrow, the Burpengary QTU representative and a technician were asked to prepare this print-out. 

Other Burpengary teachers had used the internet more than Gavin.

Paul Woodrow said that, in his opinion, Gavin's internet usage was not overly excessive, but it was more than the other Burpengary deputies.

The technician did not think that Gavin's internet usage was excessive.

 

You may think that setting Burpengary teachers and technicians to spy on a deputy principal was unpleasant and unprofessional.

 

Gavin said he would cut back on his internet usage.

 

Paul Woodrow was instructed to limit Gavin Woods's internet usage.

You might consider it to be inappropriate for a subordinate to be instructed to limit a deputy-principal's internet usage.

 

Paul Woodrow had never been instructed to limit anybody else's internet usage. 

 

Was this why Gavin's personal phone bill was so high?

Paula Passi told Gavin that she wanted him off the computer and out and about around the school, spending time with the students.

Terry Evans, the QTU organiser, told the Coroner's Inquest (that he understood) Paula Passi had told Gavin that he was not to be at his desk (or use his computer) 9.00am-3.00pm.

 

Mrs Passi later sent Gavin's internet use records to the Department of Education Ethical Standards Unit to see if Gavin's internet usage was in breach of departmental policy.

Gavin seemed to be using the computer for private purposes. 

Another Burpengary teacher had been using the departmental internet to access EBay.

Mrs Passi did not send the internet use records of this other Burpengary teacher to the Ethical Standards Unit.

Mrs Passi told the court that Steve Cook had advised her to send the details of Gavin's internet usage to Ethical Standards.

She had not explained this to gavin.

Paula Passi knew that Gavin would be worried to think that his internet usage records had been sent to Ethical Standards.

 

I understand that the Ethical Standards Unit later said there was no problem with Gavin's internet usage.

But I understood Mrs Passi to tell the Brisbane Coroner's court that over 90 per cent of Gavin's internet usage was private.

 

Mr Woodrow agreed during questioning in court that Mrs Passi had not raised her voice during the meeting.

He said Mrs Passi had been forthright and had followed protocol - although he said someone on the receiving end of all the information could have found it humiliating and intimidating.

 

Mr Woodrow said Mr Woods seemed to have "hit the wall" after this meeting.

 

Robina Cosser says : Burpengary State School had a policy that children who were going to be told off had to be 'spoken to' in a room on their own, so that the children did not feel humiliated in front of the other students.

But Gavin Woods was spoken to by Paula Passi in front of another deputy-principal and the QTU rep - who was actually Gavin's subordinate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Qld principal laments deputy's suicide, Miranda Forster, AAP, July 22 2013

Burpengary State School death inquest hears teacher Gavin Woods criticised over handling of sports day, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 24 July 2013 

Burpengary State School deputy Gavin Woods `hit the wall' after conversation with principal, inquest told , Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 25 July 2013 

 

Gavin Woods 'went into a downward spiral' after this meeting.

Andrea Malfliet  

Andrea Malfliet said the letter (that seemed to) accuse Gavin of stealing chocolate money from the school and excessive internet use sent him over the edge.

Ms Malfliet, a trained psychologist, broke down as she said she should have recognised the signs when Gavin went into a downward spiral after the meeting with principal Paula Passi.

"It was like a rug was pulled from under him," she said.

"He was called a thief and he couldn't explain it.

"Looking back now it was obviously getting worse.

"I think what happened is I'd become a bit complacent.

"We got through (Whitfield) ... and I thought "this will be the same".

"Because that had been an ongoing thing that had gradually built up, and this was so fast maybe I wasn't paying enough attention.

"I didn't believe Gavin was suicidal, that he couldn't be left by himself."

"I don't quite know how things could have gone downhill so fast and why Gavin ended his life when there were so many other options."

"I believe it all got too hard for Gavin, that he felt he'd let everybody down and that somehow we would be better off without him."

"Nothing could be further from the truth. But that dark place is not rational."

 

 

Inquest hears workplace bullying a factor in suicide, Rae Wilson, The Ipswich Advertiser, 23 July, 2013

25 May 2011 : Gavin spoke to Terry Evans, the Queensland Teachers Union Organiser for the Sunshine Coast Region.

Paul Woodrow contacted the Queensland Teachers Union and said that a member was having difficulties.

Mr Woodrow gave the QTU Gavin's phone number.

Gavin asked Terry Evans to check his response to Mrs Passi's list of allegations.

Gavin's demeanor seemed normal to Terry.

Gavin seemed to be concerned about the allegations.

Terry told the Coroner's Inquest that Gavin's letter in response to the allegations was good - detailed and matter of fact.

Gavin told Terry Evans that after the meeting with Paula Passi to discuss her allegations, his role had been changed - he was helping out with special needs.

Terry Evans was concerned about this because special needs was not part of Gavin's role at the school.

Terry Evans advised Gavin to speak to Human Resources.

Gavin did not appear to be anxious about talking to Human Resources.

Gavin told Terry Evans that he felt he was being judged too soon because of the conversation between Tony Constance and Paula Passi.

Because Paula Passi and Tony Constance had talked about Gavin, the QTU asked for a meeting with Steve Cook.

Gavin Woods phoned Bruce Elliot, Senior Human Resources Consultant.

Gavin Woods phoned Bruce Elliot of Human Resources.

At this stage Gavin had been told that his position at Burpengary State School was permanent.

They discussed the Complaint Management Process.

Bruce Elliot knew there had been a discussion with Paula Passi about the use of Professional Development Plans.

He knew there were some problems with the culture of the school.

He knew there was a training plan in place for the principal to prevent abuse of the PDF framework.

The PDF process had to be done in accordance with Departmental standards.

Mr Elliot knew that Paula Passi was being monitored.

He asked Gavin if he had a Professional Development Plan.

Gavin Woods told Bruce Elliot that he had a PDF plan.

 

During a second phone call Gavin said that there were difficulties with the Complaints Management Process.

Mr Elliot said that this was common knowledge.

It is very difficult to complain about your supervisor.

Mr Elliot sent Gavin Woods an email, outlining their discussion.

26 May 2011 : Mrs Passi discussed Gavin Woods with Ken Collier.

Mrs Passi told the court that she attended a State School principal's meeting.

Ken Collier, Assistant Regional Director, North Coast Region, was present.

Mrs Passi told the Coroner's Inquest she had told Ken Collier that Gavin Woods was hard work.

She told Ken Collier that Gavin was ineffective and she did not think he was up to the job.

Ken Collier told Paula Passi that he would come to see her in early June.

 

Ken Collier told the Coroner's Inquest that Paula Passi had told him at this meeting that Gavin Woods was hard work, that it was hard going and it did not seem to be working.

Ken Collier had the feeling that it was going to end in Gavin being put on MUP.

Friday 3 June 2011 : Gavin Woods and Paul Woodrow had another meeting with Paula Passi.

Between the two meetings Paul Woodrow had asked Gavin how he was feeling.

Paula Passi had written a letter, listing things she felt that Gavin needed to improve.

 

Paul Woodrow told the Coroner's Inquest that Gavin Woods asked Paula Passi what he had to do.

Gavin seemed to be willing to listen.

So they had an "off the record" discussion.

Paula Passi told Gavin he did not have the skills to do the job properly.

She said Gavin "should not have been promoted to the job".

She was not able to give him all of the roles of a deputy principal.

"This puts a strain on other deputies."

She said that Gavin had not spent enough time in the classroom.

She said that Gavin did not have the foundation.

Paula Passi told Gavin she had spoken to Tony Constance.

She did not want to go through the same thing as "up north".

 

Paula Passi told the coroner that she had told Gavin that he had talents in other worlds than the academic world of the deputy principal.

She suggested that he might be suited to work in an Environmental Education Centre.

She told Gavin that, if he could negotiate something, she would support him.

She thought that Gavin seemed to be quite enthusiastic about this suggestion.

She advised Gavin to discuss this with Steve Cook.

Paul Woodrow did not remember this being discussed.

 

 

Paul Woodrow told the coroner that Mrs Passi spoke very directly.

She explained what she wanted.

Mrs Passi was very matter-of fact.

She explained what she believed.

Mrs Passi did not speak in a 'softly-softly' manner.

Mrs Passi was very forthright.

Gavin was quiet.

Mrs Passi told Gavin he should consider whether he wished to continue.

One consequence was DWP (the Diminished Workplace Performance program).

Paul Woodrow told the court Ms Passi had told Mr Woods he needed to go home and think about whether he wanted to continue in the role and what he could do to improve, because otherwise he would be put on Diminished Workplace Performance (DWP).

Gavin made no response.

Roxie Borserini was also present at this meeting.

Ms Borserini also told the coroner about this "off-the-record" part of the meeting in which Paula Passi told Gavin Woods she didn't think he was up to the job.

"When it came to that part he looked at Mrs Passi and he said, `Do you think I can do it?' or words to that effect, and she looked at him, as I would have, quite startled and he said, 'Off the record,' and then Mrs Passi referred to the union rep and she looked back at Mr Woods and she said, 'Off the record?' he said, 'Yes, off-the-record Mrs Passi,' " Mrs Borserini said.

 

Robina Cosser says : Mrs Miller, Gavin's fellow deputy, reported that Gavin often asked her for re-assurance. 

Once a week he would ask Mrs Miller, "How am I going?"

And Gavin would say to Mrs Miller, "You tell me what to do and how to do it and I will do it."

When Gavin asked Paula Passi "Do you think I can do it?", was he expecting Paula Passi to give him the same sort of positive re-assurance that "he could do it"?

Mrs Borserini told the Coroner's Inquest : "And then - I thought (Mrs Passi) did it so very well - she said, 'Mr Woods, I believe it is all too hard for you at this stage,' and I could see straight away that he relaxed and sat back.

Was Gavin Woods shocked?

Paula Passi went on to say that the school was a band higher than the school he'd previously been in, it was a difficult school, our school, and that we had already trialled the Australian Curriculum."

Mrs Passi told Gavin that he had been poorly advised and that it would have been better for him to work in a big school before he went out to work in one-teacher schools.

This would have enabled him to master the curriculum.

Mrs Passi told Gavin that he needed to talk to Human Resources.

Mrs Borserini told the Coroner's Inquest that Mrs Passi made these comments in a professional and kindly way.

Ms Borserini said that Paula Passi made no statement about Gavin Woods being put on Diminished Workplace Performance.

Mrs Borserini told the court that Mrs Passi would not make a statement like that.

After telling Gavin these things, Mrs Passi said that it was a lot of information all at once

Mrs Passi told the Coroner's Inquest that Gavin was staring at the wall and not talking.

So she told Paul Woodrow to take Gavin to to the nearby coffee shop to 'debrief' - have a talk about the meeting.  

 

On the way to the Coffee Shop, Paul Woodrow suggested that Gavin contact Terry Evans, the Sunshine Coast Queensland Teachers Union Organiser.

 

Paul Woodrow said Gavin seemed to have "switched off" after the meeting.

 

Gavin told Paul Woodrow that he could not go through another investigation.

Was Gavin thinking about making another WorkCover complaint?

Paul Woodrow tried to talk about the positives in the situation.

Gavin could not see any positives.

Paul Woodrow suggested that Gavin go to the Area Manager or Human Resources.

Gavin said he'd go to Human Resources.

 

Paul Woodrow later told Paula Passi that he thought Gavin had 'hit the wall'.

It had been a lot to take in.

 

Paul Woodrow rang Terry Evans, the Sunshine Coast Queensland Teacher's Union Organiser and told Terry that Gavin Woods would be going to see him.

Monday 6 June : The day of the Grade 4 Moderation.

This was the day that Gavin Woods and Mrs Mellors, his fellow deputy-principal, were due to do the Grade 4 Moderation.

Gavin was late.

Mrs Mellors was responsible for the Grade 4 Moderation.

Tuesday 7 June 2011 : Gavin Woods and Terry Evans (the QTU Organiser) met  Steve Cook.

Gavin Woods and Mrs Mellors were due to do more moderation, but Gavin was missing.

 

Gavin had a meeting with Steve Cook, the Queensland Department of Education Regional Human Resource Manager for the North Coast Region.

Terry Evans, Queensland Teachers Union Organiser, QTU Sunshine Coast Office, told the Coroner's Inquest that he went with Gavin Woods to the meeting with Steve Cook, Principal Human Resources Manager for the North Coast Region.

Terry Evans had previously had a number of telephone conversations with Gavin.

Terry Evans met Gavin Woods in the car park about 20 minutes before the meeting.

Gavin told Terry Evans that he was very nervous.

Terry Evans told Gavin to be open and frank.

 

Gavin Woods told Steve Cook and Terry Evans that Paula Passi had told him he did not have enough experience to be a deputy principal.

Gavin talked about the problems at Whitfield State School.

Gavin told Steve Cook that he did not believe that he had been given an opportunity to show what he could do.

Terry Evans told the Coroner's Inquest that Gavin spoke in a very matter-of-fact manner.

Gavin Woods told Steve Cook that Paula Passi had told him that he would commence the MUP process next semester.

Gavin said that he had some curriculum difficulties.

He was being used as a Learning Support teacher.

Terry Evans told the Coroner's Inquest that Steve Cook was interested in Gavin Woods' Developing Performance Framework.

Steve Cook told Gavin that he would advise Paula Passi to look at Gavin's Developing Performance Framework.

 

 

Steve Cook asked Gavin what he wanted.

Gavin said he just wanted to do his job.

Steve Cook offered Gavin Employee Assistance ( the support of a psychologist).

Gavin was not interested in Employee Assistance.

They did not discuss any other support options. 

 

 

Terry Evans told the Coroner's Inquest that he had said that there was a toxic atmosphere at Burpengary State School.

Terry Evans said Gavin was unlikely to continue at Burpengary State School in the long term.

 

Robina Cosser says : But I have the impression that Gavin Woods was not actually told during this meeting that he would be re-located.

I understood Terry Evans to tell the Coroner's Court that Ken Collier and Steve Cook agreed on the following Thursday that relocation would be the best option for Gavin.

 

 

During this meeting Steve Cook told the Coroner's Inquest that he saw no indication that Gavin was suffering any mental deterioration.

Steve Cook told the court that Gavin Woods was very calm.

He was quiet, disbelieving.

Gavin said he would survive day by day, hour by hour.

Gavin seemed to Steve Cook to leave the meeting 'in a good place'.

Terry Evans spoke to Gavin Woods in the car park after the meeting for about 20 minutes.

Terry Evans suggested that Gavin go to Employee Assistance.

Terry discussed Gavin's options.

He asked Gavin if he had any sick leave that he could take.

Could he take any other type of leave?

Could he keep his head down for a couple of weeks?

Then, Terry Evans told Gavin, he would most likely be relocated.

But Gavin did not want to take sick leave.

Terry Evans said that this was because Gavin was very professional.

 

 

In fact Gavin may not have had very much sick leave left.

 

 

Terry Evans told Gavin that a transfer would depend on vacancies.  

Terry Evans told the Coroner's Inquest that he had no concerns about Gavin Woods' mental health.

But Mrs Passi told the Coroner's Inquest that Gavin "sat very quietly" and she got the impression that the meeting with Steve Cook had not gone well.

Burpengary State School rocked by inquiries, suicide, Kelmeny Fraser and Patrick Lion, The Sunday Mail : 31 July 2011

Coroner hears that deputy principal post not the best move for teacher who is believed to have committed suicide, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 26 January 2013 
Wednesday 8 June 2011 : the day before Gavin Woods went missing.

The day after his meeting with the District Office staff and the QTU officer, Gavin had to run the Grade 7 Moderation.

It was 'his day'. 

Mrs Mellors said Gavin had everything organised and the day went well.

Mrs Mellors said Gavin seemed really pleased that his Moderation Day had gone so well.

 

Robina Cosser says : Imagine how stressful it must have been for Gavin to organise 'his day' with the worry of the District Office meeting dominating his thoughts.

And knowing that, however good 'his day' was, it did not really matter.

If he stayed at Burpengary he was going to be put on the MUP and driven out of work.

Andrea Malfliet Andrea Malfliet says that by the time Gavin got home, he was worrying again.

By this time Gavin's mood had deteriorated to the point where he was not sleeping properly and living day to day, according to Andrea Malfliet.

 

Andrea and Gavin fought over a large telephone bill.

Robina Cosser says : Did Gavin feel trapped because he needed to talk to people, to search for information and to get some advice on how to deal with the situation, but he was not allowed to use the internet at school and he could not use his own phone because his phone bill was so high?

 

 

 Qld principal laments deputy's suicide, Miranda Forster, AAP, July 22 2013  

Thursday 9 June 2011 : Gavin Woods went missing.
Obituary: Gavin Woods 
 
Gavin Woods rang Burpengary school on June 9 2011, saying he was sick.
 
 
 
Coroner hears that deputy principal post not the best move for teacher who is believed to have committed suicide, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 26 January 2013 
Burpengary State School rocked by inquiries, suicide, Kelmeny Fraser and Patrick Lion, The Sunday Mail : 31 July 2011

Queensland Police Facebook page : http://www.facebook.com/notes/queensland-police-service/missing-man-wamuran/195456043835749

Seems to be the Facebook page for people who knew Gavin Woods at Whitfield State School, Cairns  : http://www.facebook.com/pages/RIP-Mr-Gavin-Woods-All-Our-Hearts-Are-With-You/144967428915021

Saturday 11 June 2011 : Gavin Woods was reported missing.
Tuesday 14 June 2011 Steve Cook rang Paula Passi.

On Tuesday 14 June, Steve Cook was told that Gavin Woods was missing.

Steve Cook rang Paula Passi immediately.

Mr Cook was concerned about what might have happened at the school after the 7 June meeting.

He was worried that Paula Passi may have had another clash with Gavin Woods after the meeting.

Thursday 16 June 2011 : A former Burpengary State School teacher contacted the authorities.

16 June 2011 (approx), authorities received a phone call from a former teacher at Burpengary State School.

 

 

Burpengary State School rocked by inquiries, suicide, Kelmeny Fraser and Patrick Lion, The Sunday Mail : 31 July 2011

Sunday 26 June 2011 : Gavin Woods was found dead.

Obituary: Gavin Woods 

 

 

 

  

26 June 2011 Gavin Woods was found dead in bushland near his Wamuran home, west of Caboolture.

 

There were things that "indicated that he had taken his own life''.

A suicide note was found with him.

 

In the suicide note Mr Woods referred to relationship problems.

"This is the 13th time she's told me that I will leave or the relationship is over," he wrote.

"When I'm struggling with a huge problem at work and then another problem hits me I just can't cope anymore."

 

 

 
Police prepared a report for the coroner.

The death was believed to be non suspicious.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland launched an investigation into Gavin Woods' death.

Man found dead in Wamuran bushland, Sunshine Coast Daily, 28 June 2011: http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/story/2011/06/28/man-found-dead-wamuran-bushland/

Coroner hears that deputy principal post not the best move for teacher who is believed to have committed suicide, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 26 January 2013 : http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/suspected-suicide-after-deputy-principal-posting/story-e6freoof-1226562141040

Gavin Woods's obituary :  http://tributes.couriermail.com.au/obituaries/couriermail-au/obituary.aspx?n=gavin-woods&pid=153725273

 Qld principal laments deputy's suicide, Miranda Forster, AAP, July 22 2013   http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/qld-principal-laments-deputys-suicide/story-fni0xqi4-1226683361069

1 July 2011 : The Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission received a complaint about workplace bullying at Burpengary State School.

A Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission ( CMC ) spokeswoman confirmed that it had "received a complaint against Paula Passi related to workplace bullying and inappropriate responses to student behaviour issues".

The CMC received the workplace bullying complaint on July 1, 2011.

But the CMC delayed making an announcement about the complaint for nine months - till 24 March 2012, the day of the Queensland state election, when the Labor government was clearly going to be voted out of office.

 

Burpengary State School principal in accusations of bullying, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 24 March 2012 

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/principal-in-accusations-of-bullying/story-e6freoof-1226308653109

10 July 2011 : Cameron Dick, Queensland Minister of Education, announced that he was setting up a reference group to examine workplace bullying.
Robina Cosser explained why Cameron Dick's workplace bullying reference group would fail bullied Queensland teachers - again.

Robina Cosser published an article in the Sunshine Coast Daily on Cameron Dick's workplace bullying reference group, explaining why the reference group would fail bullied Queensland teachers - again :

Why Cameron Dick’s workplace bullying reference group will fail bullied Queensland teachers - again, Robina Cosser, My Sunshine Coast, 1 August 2011 :

 http://www.mysunshinecoast.com.au/articles/article-display/why-cameron-dicks-workplace-bullying-reference-group-will-fail-bullied-queensland-teachers--again,22438

11 July 2011 : Burpengary State School principal Paula Passi was suspended.

Education Queensland director-general Julie Grantham confirmed Paula Passi, from Burpengary State School, was suspended.

Ms Passi, principal at the school for more than a decade, had been awarded a Minister's Award for Excellence in School Leadership in 2007.

 

Burpengary State School rocked by inquiries, suicide, Kelmeny Fraser and Patrick Lion, The Sunday Mail : 31 July 2011 http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/school-rocked-by-inquiries-suicide/story-e6freoof-1226105151221

 
Burpengary State School's Paula Passi suspended, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 19 July 2011 : http://www.news.com.au/burpengary-state-schools-paula-passi-suspended/story-e6freon6-1226097137833
19 July 2011 : Queensland LNP Shadow Attorney-General Jarrod Bleije asked the Crime and Misconduct Commission Chairman why Helen Couper, former CMC Director of Integrity Services, had been refused an extension of her contract with the CMC.

On 19 July 2011 LNP Shadow Attorney-General Jarrod Bleije attempted to seek answers about the dismissals and contract terminations of several senior Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission officers.

Helen Couper, former CMC Director of Integrity Services, for example, seems to have been refused an extension of her contract with the CMC.

On question after question, CMC Chairman Martin Moynihan was vague – mostly saying he couldn't recall or didn't have details or reasons for the dismissals and contract terminations of the senior CMC officers.

But on 31 July Helen Couper was re-appointed by the Queensland Labor Government to probe the Department of Education's handling of the workplace bullying complaint at Burpengary State School - see below.

 

CMC chairman vague on sackings, Jarrod Bleijie, LNP, 19 July 2011 :  http://lnp.org.au/news/attorney-general/cmc-chairman-vague-on-sackings

20 July 2011 : A Burpengary State School 'insider' contacted Crikey and alleged that many Burpengary State School staff were afraid to speak up.

Crikey reported that one Burpengary 'insider' had detailed several complaints.

The 'insider' also alleged that “many staff at the school are too scared to speak up for fear of being sued”. 

Tips and rumours, Crikey, 20 July 2011 : http://www.crikey.com.au/2011/07/20/tips-and-rumours-501/

25 July 2011 (approx) : Burpengary State School deputies Roxie Borserini and Ken Ruhle were suspended.

Paula Passi, Roxie Borserini and Ken Ruhle are all on full pay and under investigation by the Education Queensland ethical standards unit.

"The suspension of the Burpengary State School principal on 11 July culminates from matters unrelated to the death of Gavin Woods," Education Queensland director-general Julie Grantham said.

Which seems to suggest that there were TWO very serious and unrelated problems at Burpengary State School in July 2011.

 

"The department has suspended two deputy principals from Burpengary State School as a result of matters which have emerged during the investigation associated with the principal."

“As this investigation is ongoing, the department cannot make any further comment in relation to this matter." 

 

Burpengary State School rocked by inquiries, suicide, Kelmeny Fraser and Patrick Lion, The Sunday Mail : 31 July 2011 http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/school-rocked-by-inquiries-suicide/story-e6freoof-1226105151221

Burpengary State School deputy principals stood down after principal Paula Passi's suspension, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 25 July 2011 : http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/burpengary-state-school-deputy-principals-stood-down-after-principal-paula-passis-suspension/story-e6freoof-1226101486927

 

31 July 2011 : Cameron Dick announced that the Bligh Labor Government had appointed Helen Couper, former CMC Director of Integrity Services, to probe the Department of Education's handling of the Burpengary state School situation.

Robina Cosser Comments : Helen Couper seems to have done a good job investigating the problems at Burpengary State School.

Duncan McKellar, Acting Assistant Director General, Human Resources, Queensland Department of Education, told the Coroner's Inquest that Helen Couper had identified many systemic issues in the process of her investigation.

But her investigation report is "Non Publication".

 

CMC chairman vague on sackings, Jarrod Bleijie, LNP, 19 July 2011 

Burpengary State School rocked by inquiries, suicide, Kelmeny Fraser and Patrick Lion, The Sunday Mail : 31 July 2011

 

 

12 August 2011 : Workplace Bullying in Queensland schools was discussed during People's Question Time.

 

Panellists for the People's Question Time - Education in Queensland were:

  • Premier of Queensland Anna Bligh
  • Minister for Education and Industrial Relations Cameron Dick
  • Professor Paul Mazerolle, Pro Vice Chancellor (Arts, Education and Law) and Director of the Violence Research and Prevention Program at Griffith University
  • Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, founding member of the National Centre Against Bullying and one of Australia’s most respected psychologists on the issue of bullying
  • Mr Wade Haynes, Executive Principal at Brisbane State High School

So, interestingly, at least two of these panellists seems to have had a special interest in bullying.

I had sent in some questions on workplace bullying in Queensland schools - and, to my amazement, my questions were asked -

Moderator: ... a question has come in from Robina in Cairns. She says Queensland teachers claim that they are being bullied by their fellow teachers, principals, other administrators, parents and students.

Why are we continually told that there is zero tolerance for bullying in Queensland schools when workplace bullying seems to be systemic? Minister, would you like to?

Cameron Dick : Well there’s no place for bullying in any work environment in Queensland, and I say that, I can say that with my hat on as the Education Minister but also with my hat on as the Minister for Industrial Relations. And we don’t tolerate any workplace bullying in any state government department including the Education Department.

Robina Cosser : Ever since I spoke to Anna Bligh and Jim Varghese in Cairns in June 2002, Ministers and Directors-General have been chanting "there's no place for bullying in Queensland schools" - but these are just empty words.

The reality is that workplace bullying seems to be systemic in Education Queensland.

As I told Anna Bligh in June 2002, bullied teachers are advised by their union to 'accept the things that cannot change' because the Education Queensland Grievance Process does not work and teachers who 'fight it' are driven to mental and physical breakdown.

Cameron Dick : And as the Industrial Relations Minister I’ve just set up a taskforce to look at workplace bullying, it is for a whole range of reasons including new technologies.

Robina Cosser : Good start.

But will there be anybody on the task force to represent the views of bullied workers?

Cameron Dick : (Bullying is) an issue that remains in workplaces and probably will always be there but it’s how we manage it the best we can to ensure there are safe working environments for every worker in Queensland is very important.

So we’ve got a high level group representatives across all sectors, business groups, union groups, representatives of government working together to try and look at where we take it to the next stage.

Robina Cosser : But who will represent the views of bullied workers?

Cameron Dick : We already have a very significant code of practice in Queensland that came out of a review in 2004.

Robina Cosser : And three years later, in 2007, UNE researchers found that 99.6 per cent of Australian teachers had been bullied at work, and that workplace bullying was 'rife' in Queensland.

Mr Dick, you need to have a policy that no teacher in Queensland can be appointed a school principal - or an 'acting' principal - till they have passed a written exam on their understanding of the Department of Education policies.

If nobody is reading your policies, you have no polices.

At the moment it seems that a principal can be appointed with no knowledge of the Departmental policies, want to bully a teacher, ring the Regional Office for advice, copy the Regional Office advice onto a sticky-note, destroy the teacher's health and career, paste the sticky-note on  the teachers' official record - and then claim that it was all an innocent mistake.

And then the principal will be protected, promoted and celebrated in the Parliament House Annex!

Cameron Dick : We’re now looking to take that to the next level. So certainly it’s not tolerated and it shouldn’t be tolerated in any school and it shouldn’t be tolerated in any workplace.

Robina Cosser : It seems to be systemic.

Moderator: So what should a teacher do if they were in that position?

Cameron Dick: Well they should of course report it to their principal or an appropriate regional…

Moderator: And if the principal is the instigator of such action?

Cameron Dick: Well they can report to Regional Office as well.

Robina Cosser : But what if several members of the Regional Office staff had already been 'groomed' by the bully principal?

What if they had actually 'advised' the principal how to bully the teacher?

Wouldn't they have a conflict of interest?

Cameron Dick : and maybe Wade could talk about the processes that he might be aware of, as someone at the coalface.

Moderator: At the coalface Wade, has that been an issue that you have struck?

Wade Hayne: We work under a fairly serious code of conduct that, it has fairly high expectations about how we treat each other. But of course, when you put any group of people together you’re going to find the relationships are taxing at times so, and there are very clear reporting processes. So you go to your supervisor, if it’s the principal you go to their supervisor, and often though the unions are there to assist in that process as well.

Robina Cosser : The Queensland Teachers' Union does not support 'members who are in conflict with other members'.

That's their policy.

They just advise bullied teachers to 'accept the things you cannot change' because the Education Queensland Grievance process does not work and teachers who 'fight it' are driven to mental and physical breakdown.

Wade Hayne : So there’s good support for people around those things and certainly very clear ways to have those things dealt with.

Robina Cosser : No, there is no support.

Nothing.

You are isolated.

Other teachers are warned that they will get into 'very serious trouble' if they speak to you.

Moderator: Great thank you. Yes Paul?

Paul Mazerolle: Lisa, I just want to add a little bit on that. I was involved a couple of years ago with the national study on whistle blowing, which involved a survey of 9,000 public servants with AJ Brown involved and others. And we actually found workplace bullying was one of the main reasons that individuals put up their hand for saying there was wrong doing in the workplace.

Robina Cosser : Yes! I was interviewed for the AJ Brown research.

I told the researcher all about my own experience of whistleblowing.

I whistleblew to Jim Varghese on 31 August 2001. 

This disclosure was read by an Education Queensland Ethical Conduct Department solicitor.

Then all but the first three pages of my disclosure seem to have been 'lost' by the department.

I whistleblew again to Anna Bligh and Jim Varghese in Cairns in June 2002.

I sat down with Anna Bligh and Jim Varghese and told them that teachers who were bullied at work were being advised by their union that there was no hope of justice because the Department of Education Grievance process did not work and teachers who 'fought it' were driven to mental and physical breakdown.

Paul Mazzerolle : And what’s striking is that is cuts across sectors. And it’s also, the other issue that’s very important, it seems to be invoked when there is performance discussions that are really necessary in a competitive high performing work environment.

Robina Cosser : Yes!

I told the AJ Brown researchers about my 31 August 2001 disclosure to Jim Varghese.

My disclosure to Jim Varghese was that Queensland teachers were being put on Diminished Workplace Performance ( now called Managing Unsatisfactory Performance ) to 'pay them back' for trying to engage in professional discussion - for reporting child abuse by another teacher, for trying to discuss the behaviour problems at their school, etc. 

Queensland school principals seemed to be putting classroom teachers on DWP because it was easier than doing their own job properly and dealing with the problems at their school.

And the QTU were advising teachers to "accept the things that cannot change" because the Education Queensland Grievance process did not work and teachers who 'fought it" were being driven into ill health and out of work.

Paul Mazzerolle : So there’s a lot of complexities underneath that, that label of workplace bullying and I think my colleagues are right to say it is about the policy but it’s about the culture and it’s about having a meaningful dialogue and confronting things when things are going wrong in the workplace. But it is a big issue.

Robina Cosser : Yes! We need cultural change.

Principals need to demonstrate that they can read the Departmental policies and have a good understanding of the Departmental policies before they are promoted.

Then they can be held responsible for being in breach of the official policies.

We need to put an end to the practice of incompetent principals ringing the Regional Office, getting a 'sticky-note version' of the official policies, and then claiming that their abuse was an innocent mistake.

Watch the video of the People's Question Time : http://www.premiers.qld.gov.au/government/peoples-question-time/2011/august.aspx ( http://pan.search.qld.gov.au ) - 24k

Read the transcript of the People's Question Time :
31 August 2011 : Queensland Department of Education and Training Director-General Julie Grantham said it would be 'highly inappropriate' for her to explain why Burpengary principal Paula Passi and deputy principals Roxie Borserini and Ken Ruhle had been suspended.

The Burpengary State School community still have not been told why principal Paula Passi and deputy principals Roxie Borserini and Ken Ruhle were suspended in July.

Education and Training Department Director-General Julie Grantham said that it would be "highly inappropriate" to make any comment.

 

Burpengary State School teacher suspensions still a mystery, Glenn Roberts, Northern Times, Quest Newspapers, 31 August 2011 : http://www.couriermail.com.au/questnews/moreton/burpengary-state-school-teacher-suspensions-still-a-mystery/story-fn8m0yu3-1226126705115

 

 

5 September 2011 : Roxie Borserini filed a Notification of an industrial dispute with the Queensland Department of Education and Training.

Queensland Industrial Relations Commission Matters Filed List Number D/2011/116   S229 Notification of industrial dispute Borserini, Roxie V Department of Education and Training : File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - Quick View

 

30 September 2011 : John Battams, General Secretary of the QTU, 'departed'.
Farewell John, and thanks, Graham Moloney, QTU Acting General Secretary,  P.6, The Queensland Teachers Journal, Vol 34, Number 7, 7 October 2011.
12 October 2011 : Education Queensland North Coast assistant regional director Ken Collier told Burpengary State School parents that they might never be allowed to know what had really been going on at their school.

Burpengary State School parents have been told that they might never find out why their principal and deputy principals have been suspended.

At a P&C meeting at the school on Monday night, Education Queensland North Coast assistant regional director Ken Collier acknowledged that the school had been dislocated by the death of Gavin Woods and the subsequent suspension of Paula Passi, the Burpengary State School principal, and Roxie Borserini and Ken Ruhle, the two other deputy principals.

Mr Collier said he couldn't provide any more information because of  "strict privacy legislation".

He said he could not provide a timeline for when the department's ethical standards unit investigation would be finalised.

Education Queensland regional director Greg Peach had asked for the investigation to be finalised as soon as "humanly possible".

When one Burpengary parent asked whether they would find out the reason for the suspensions at the end of the investigation, Mr Collier said he "would doubt that very much".

Mr Collier said he still couldn't give parents reasons for the suspensions, urging them "to trust Education Queensland" in its decision-making.

 

Robina Cosser's comments : Unfortunately , Mr Collier, based on my own experience of Education Queensland investigations -http://www.theteachersareblowingtheirwhistles.com/theinvestigations.htm, the decision-making process cannot be trusted at all.

About the only thing you can trust is that the investigation process will take years, documents supportive of your case will be 'lost' or 'not considered', the facts will be fudged, the systemic problems will not be identified, the faux investigation 'findings' will be accepted by the Crime and Misconduct Commission, any changes to the official departmental policies will be based on these faux investigation 'findings', departmental administrators will not read the official polices  - and nothing will really change.

Headline: Schoolin turmoil - Parents say kids hurt, Tanya Chilcott, Edition 6 - Late City, AAP, The Courier-Mail, 12 October 2011 : http://aap.newscentre.com.au/demo/111012/library/industry_issues_-_new_legislation/26895463.html

 

17 October 2011 : Roxie Borserini filed another notification of an Industrial dispute.

D/2011/152 17-Oct-2011 S229 -  Notification of industrial dispute Borserini, Roxie v Department of Education and Training.

[PDF] 
 
www.qirc.qld.gov.au/resources/pdf/matters.../matters_211011.pdf
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - Quick View
20 October 2011 : Kenneth Ruhle also filed a notification of an industrial dispute.

D/2011/156 20-Oct-2011 S229 - Notification of industrial dispute Ruhle, Kenneth v Department of Education and Training.

[PDF] 
 
www.qirc.qld.gov.au/resources/pdf/matters.../matters_211011.pdf
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - Quick View
20 October 2011 : Jane Fynes-Clinton published an article in The Courier-Mail about Queensland teachers being bullied at work.
 
Jane writes that Queensland teachers are vulnerable to workplace abuse.

Few manage to escape being buffeted by critical parents, sniped at by ungrateful students, judged by other teachers and eyed unfairly by superiors at some point in their careers.

Teachers are treated like our society's whipping boys: blamed by students, parents and principals for the problems in Queensland schools.

And they are not allowed to respond.

Because silence is their "Code of Conduct".

The official line is that bullying of Queensland teachers is not a problem and that when workplace abuse emerges it is stamped on.

But classroom teachers will tell you that the abuse comes from within and outside the system, online and in person, from the shadows and up front.

The finger of blame began turning towards teachers when the cane began to be phased out in the 1980s and was finally banned in state schools in 1995.

While no one wants children physically hurt, discipline is now a nebulous nothingness at school and engagement has gone downhill.

Any kind of physical handling is taboo.

Verbal dressings down are cause for outrage.

Queensland teachers are disempowered and their students know it.

 

Endless bullying unfair to teachers, Jane Fynes-Clinton, The Courier-Mail, 20 October 2011 : http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/opinion/teachers-become-targets/story-e6frerdf-1226171116345

Robina Cosser comments : Over the years I have spoken to many newspaper reporters about the workplace bullying problems in Queensland schools.
 
Jane is the first reporter to actually publish something about the situation.
 
And by 11.10am Sunday 23 October 2011, Jane's article had been 'recommended' 630 times - which seems to me to indicate quite a high level of reader interest in this article.
 
But not a single reader's comment on the article has been published.
Why?
12 November 2011 : Madonna King warned 'superordinate' employees that 'subordinate' employees might be keeping records of their behaviour.

Madonna King raises some interesting issues in her article :

Diary could write off a career, Madonna King, The Courier-Mail, 12 November 2011 : http://www.couriermail.com.au/ipad/diary-could-write-off-a-career/story-fn6ck620-1226193131352

Madonna reports that a subordinate employee has produced a diary she had been keeping for three years of her superordinate's bullying and harassing behaviour.

It is interesting that Madonna chooses to employ the term 'subordinate', with its suggestion of insubordination by the 'subordinate' employee and its suggestion of the superiority of the 'superordinate' officer.

But the Education Queensland promotion system does not promote confidence in the real superiority of 'superordinates'. 

Education Queensland 'superordinates' do not really seem to be being promoted because they are superior, they seem to be being promoted because they support the Labor party, because they are willing to 'go along with' workplace abuse, because they are glib liars, because they are willing to work in a very remote area, etc, etc.

And when you are bullied at work, one of the first pieces of advice you are given is to document the bullying behaviour.

Madonna seems to have spun this documentation of workplace bullying into 'the problem'.

But it is not the documentation of the workplace bullying that is the problem.

It is the workplace bullying that is the problem.

 

Madonna says that the subordinate employee's diary has dozens of entries, all detailing the superordinate employee's alleged conduct in 'highly emotive and damaging language'.

Now, if the diary is really written in 'highly emotive and damaging language', it is not a good diary.

The diary should be factual.

The subordinate employee may have felt distressed by the bullying, the facts may be damaging to the superordinate employee, but this should all be recorded in a factual manner.

Madonna says that the superordinate employee can't disprove what's written in the subordinate employee's diary because she hasn't kept her own account of every conversation the two have shared.

You have to wonder how many horrible conversations this superordinate employee has had with subordinate employees over the years.

Why has this superordinate employee needed to have so many unpleasant conversations?

Why has she kept no record of these many horrible conversations?

Maybe the superordinate employee needs to think about the way that she relates to subordinate employees.

Madonna says that the superordinate employee cannot remember what she said.

The old 'forgetting' strategy?

So the superordinate employee had all of these horrible conversations and cannot remember them?

Maybe the superordinate employee needs to re-think the way that she relates to subordinate employees.

Madonna asks why the subordinate employee kept her notes secret.

Well, if the subordinate employee works for Education Queensland, it would be essential to keep the notes secret.

If a Queensland principal realised that a classroom teacher was planning to make a Grievance about their behaviour, they would very quickly put the teacher on Managing Unsatisfactory Performance ( MUP ) for some trumped-up reason.

And when you are on MUP, you are trapped at that school with that abusive principal till the MUP is completed (or till you become ill from stress and resign).

And you can't make a Grievance about the decision to put you on MUP.

The Department of Education MUP rules are very, very bully-friendly.

Madonna says that lawyers advise employees to keep notes if they are being bullied or harassed.

You bet you they do.

And principals should also keep proper professional records.

Madonna asks if it is fair to expect a superordinate officer to keep records of problem conversations with subordinate employees.

You bet you it is.

Madonna asks why we can't just trust other people.

Because, Madonna, some people in our workplaces are horrible.

They may have been promoted because they are liars.

And they may lie about their subordinates.

And they may abuse them.

And they may lie about their abuse.

Madonna asks why a decent subordinate person would not discuss a problem on the spot.

Well, Madonna, in the case of Education Queensland, that is because any attempt by a teacher to discuss a professional issue seems to trigger 'payback' allegations.

So, for example, a teacher who discloses child abuse by another teacher may find that they are accused of child abuse themselves.

Madonna says that superordinate employees should make sure they have a third person in the room when they discuss a problem with a subordinate officer.

And the subordinate employee should make sure that they -

  • tape record the meeting (because otherwise the allegations can be changed and the notes of the meeting can be horribly falsified).
  • do not respond to any allegation till they have been provided with a copy of the allegation in the own words of the person making the allegation (because the superordinate officer may be lying about the allegations).
  • do not respond till they have had legal advice on the wording of their response.
 
Madonna says that superordinate officers need to understand that bullying and harassing subordinate employees can destroy their career.
 
But in a 2007 UNE study, 99.6 per cent of Education Queensland teachers reported that they had experienced workplace abuse.
  
And how many bullying Queensland 'superordinates' have since been fired?
 
Not many. 
 
The truth is that workplace bullying seems to be systemic in Queensland schools.
 
And the bullies seem to be protected.
15 November 2011 : Burpengary State School councillor said the three senior staff members were needed back at Burpengary school.

The unexplained absence of the three senior staff members has affected the morale of all the students, teachers and parents who are connected with Burpengary State School.

"We want to make sure they come back to this school," a prominent school councillor said.

"They have a proven track record of having taken Burpengary from the bottom of the academic ladder to one of the top schools in the state.

"Paula has the moral courage to stand up to any situation and sort it out and has enormous respect from the students."

"She has made this a resilient school and community."

 

"The school community has been advised of all that can be published at the moment," Department of Education and Training regional director of schools Greg Peach said.

School in limbo, John Hammond, Sunshine Coast Daily, 15th November 2011 : http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/story/2011/11/15/school-in-limbo/

 

19 November 2011 : Mitch Townsend of Burpengary wrote to the Editor of The Courier-Mail. He said Human Resource Managers needed to get to know their workmates.

Letter written in response to : Diary could write off a career, Madonna King, The Courier-Mail, 12 November 2011 : http://www.couriermail.com.au/ipad/diary-could-write-off-a-career/story-fn6ck620-1226193131352 

Madonna King writes about (a superordinate officer) who is facing bullying and harassment charges after a subordinate produced a secret diary she had been keeping for three years.

(The superordinate officer) disagrees with what (the subordiate officer) claims.

A percentage of workplaces appear to encourage an environment where a degree of fear and intimidation seems to be a deliberate tactic.

The first step must be taken by the person who feels offended.

Tell the bully that you find their language and behaviour offensive and ask them to stop.

Stage two is to record this incident in your diary and make a written report to management.

It was disappointing that Madonna King did not reflect on the plight of a genuine victim.

Bullying is the most invidious disease a workplace can suffer from.

Much has been published regarding youth suicide for this exact reason.

Hint for human resource managers : Get to know your workmates.

You will then be a better judge of whether the diary notes have substance.

 

Mitch Townsend, Burpengary, Letter to the Editor, Insight, Viewpoint, p.66, The Courier-Mail, 19-20 November 2011

31 December 2011 : Cameron Dick's Workplace Bullying reference group completed their review.

On July 10 Cameron Dick announced that his Workplace Bullying reference group would hold its first meeting in August 2011 and would complete its review by 31 December 2011.

What did the Workplace Bullying reference group tell Cameron Dick?

Why didn't Cameron Dick make any announcement about the findings of his Workplace Bullying Reference Group?

2 January 2012 : the Department of Education still would not explain why the principal and two deputies at Burpengary State School had to be suspended.

The Burpengary State School principal and two deputy principals have now been suspended on full pay since July 2011.

The Burpengary school community has pleaded for the situation to be resolved.

The department still has not released the reasons for the suspensions.

 

Teacher suspensions rise, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 2 January 2011 :  

http://www.couriermail.com.au/ipad/teacher-suspensions-rise/story-fn6ck45n-1226234388852

16 January 2012 : Burpengary parents had been told that they may never know why Ms Passi was suspended.

The Queensland Department of Education still hasn't revealed its reasons behind the suspension of  Burpengary State School principal Paula Passi.

In January 2012 Ms Passi  was still on full pay.

 
Concerned parents have been told they may never know why Ms Passi was suspended.
 
 
Three Queensland school principals suspended in 2011, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 16 January 2012 : http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/school-heads-suspended/story-e6freoof-1226244913457
19 January 2012 : Burpengary State School parents were still waiting for an explanation of the TWO very serious problems at their school.
Parents of Burpengary State School students are still waiting for news on the fate of the school's suspended principal and deputy principals.

This week Education Queensland would give no indication when an announcement about their future would be made.

In July, Education and Training Department director general Julie Grantham said the suspensions of the Burpengary State School principal and the two deputies were from matters unrelated to the death of deputy principal Gavin Woods.

Parents still in dark over suspended Burpenary State School principal's fate, Glenn Roberts, Caboolture Shire Herald, 19 January 2012 : http://www.couriermail.com.au/questnews/moreton/parents-still-in-dark-over-suspended-burpenary-state-school-principals-fate/story-fn8m0yu3-1226247595420

19 January 2012 : A community member protested that Paula Passi - and the Burpengary State School community - "deserved better treatment from Education Queensland".
We all know Paula Passi is an outstanding educator who has demonstrated ethical and caring leadership at the Burpengary State School for a long period of time.
25 January 2012 : Education Queensland released a statement - Roxie Borserini and Ken Ruhle faced potential disciplinary action.

The Crime and Misconduct Commission has accepted an Education Queensland investigation finding that the two suspended deputy principals of Burpengary State School should face potential disciplinary action.

Education Queensland has released a statement confirming the CMC "concurred with the investigation findings and our recommendation that a formal disciplinary process be considered" against suspended  BSS deputy principals Roxie Borserini and Ken Ruhle.

"The matter has now been referred to the Department's Workforce Review Unit for this process to commence," EQ assistant director-general Craig Allen said in a statement of the disciplinary process.

"An investigation into allegations against Burpengary State School Principal Paula Passi is still ongoing.

 

Burpengary State School suspended deputy principals face possible disciplinary action, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 25 January 2012 : http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/burpengary-state-school-former-deputy-principals-face-possible-disciplinary-action/story-e6freoof-1226253730872

28 January 2012 : The Courier -Mail published Education Queensland's Statewide Audit Ratings.

Burpengary State School is rated :

Improvement Agenda - High

Data Analysis - High

Learning Culture - High

Targeted Resources - Outstanding

Teaching Team - Medium

Curriculum Delivery - Outstanding

Diferentiated learning - High

Effective Teaching - High

24 March 2012 - on the day of the Queensland State election, Queenslanders were finally told that the CMC had received a workplace bullying complaint nine months earlier. The complaint concerned Burpengary State School.

Today the Queensland Labor government expects to be decimated.

And all Labor Ministers, including Cameron Dick, the Minister of Education, expect to lose their jobs.

And today, while Queenslanders are entirely distracted by the election, a Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission ( CMC ) spokeswoman confirmed for the first time that it had "received a complaint against Paula Passi related to workplace bullying and inappropriate responses to student behaviour issues" on July 1, 2011.

"All information received was assessed and referred to the department to deal with, subject to the CMC's oversight," the CMC spokeswoman said.

Ms Passi is currently suspended on full pay pending the outcome of the investigations.

 

 

At this date the allegations relating to Burpengary State School deputy principals Roxie Borserini and Ken Ruhle are unknown.

The CMC "concurred" with the department's investigation findings and "recommendation that a formal disciplinary process be considered" in their cases.

That consideration process is ongoing although DET Assistant Director Craig Allen said the "show cause" process for Mr Borserini and Mr Ruhle had not yet been completed.

Mrs Borserini and Mr Ruhle are currently suspended on full pay pending the outcome of the investigations.

 

Burpengary State School principal in accusations of bullying, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 24 March 2012 

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/principal-in-accusations-of-bullying/story-e6freoof-1226308653109

I May 2012
The Queensland Coroner's office received the Workplace Health and Safety Report in relation to Gavin Woods' death.
 
 

Coroner's inquest ordered into death of Burpengary State School deputy principal Gavin Woods, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 7 May 2012 : http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/coroners-inquest-ordered-into-death-of-burpengary-state-school-deputy-principal-gavin-woods/story-e6freoof-1226348187938

7 May 2012 : Regional Coroner Ray Rinaudo was appointed to investigate Gavin Woods' death.

"After receiving the Workplace Health and Safety Report in relation to the death on 1 May 2012, the Coroner decided to convene an inquest," the Queensland Coroner's office statement says.

" ... the coroner can make recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths in the future," the Queensland Courts website reads.

"Coronial investigations do not focus on laying blame or assigning liability for the death."

The state can order an inquest into matters where a death occurred in suspicious circumstances, where the death was an unnatural such as accident, falls, suicides or drug overdoses, or in other circumstances.

Regional Coroner Ray Rinaudo, who specialised in dispute resolution during his legal career until he was appointed a magistrate in 2005, has served as a commissioner with the Crime and Misconduct Commission.

A date has not been set yet for the inquest.

 

Department of Education, Training and Employment director-general Julie Grantham said the department would "assist the Coroner where possible with the inquest into the death".

"Out of respect for Gavin and his family, and as the matter is now before the Coroners Court, it is inappropriate to make further comment," she said.

 

Coroner's inquest ordered into death of Burpengary State School deputy principal Gavin Woods, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 7 May 2012 : http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/coroners-inquest-ordered-into-death-of-burpengary-state-school-deputy-principal-gavin-woods/story-e6freoof-1226348187938  

Woods mystery may be solved, Rae Wilson, The Caboolture News, 11 May 2012 : http://www.caboolturenews.com.au/story/2012/05/11/woods-mystery-may-be-solved/

14 May 2012 : the Queensland Department of Education has found the Burpengary State School allegations to be substantiated.
Allegations against suspended Burpengary State School principal Paula Passi and deputy principals Roxie Borserini and Ken Ruhle have been substantiated by the Queensland Department of Education, Training and Employment (DETE), following Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission reviews of the cases.

But parents at Burpengary State School remain in the dark about why the three staff members were suspended.

DETE director-general Julie Grantham has consistently refused to release details about the nature of the allegations, citing privacy reasons.

Ms Grantham confirmed several allegations had been "substantiated against each of the three suspended employees".

"The principal of Burpengary State School and two deputy principals remain suspended on full pay," Ms Grantham said.

"This is their entitlement and ensures staff are treated fairly and professionally, irrespective of the seriousness of allegations made against them.

"Each officer under investigation is also entitled to exercise appeal rights under the principles of natural justice.

"... Employees under investigation have legal and industrial rights which need to be recognised. Matters are still ongoing in relation to each of the three suspended officers."

 

Action on suspended school trio upheld, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 14 May 2012

http://www.couriermail.com.au/ipad/action-on-suspended-school-trio-upheld/story-fn6ck45n-1226354237765

26 May 2012 : Julia Gillard and Bill Shorten announce a Parliamentary Inquiry into workplace bullying 'all around the nation'.

(Edited) transcript of joint doorstop interview, Melbourne

SAT 26 MAY 2012

Prime Minister

Subject(s): Review into workplace bullying

 

Julia Gillard PM: I am here today with Minister Bill Shorten ... and we’re here today to talk about bullying in our workplaces.

I feel very concerned that in workplaces around the country there are people ... who are being bullied at work.

... (I am worried that) there’s a silent epidemic out there.

There are people who are being bullied who aren't feeling that they can raise their voices and report their experiences.

... We, today, are here to announce a parliamentary inquiry into bullying around the nation.

 ... If we have a national parliamentary inquiry, it will enable people to come forward, tell their stories, help us work out the prevalence of bullying in work places and also help us add to what we are doing now.

And one way we could add to what we are doing now is ... to have common national laws to deal with bullying at work.

MINISTER SHORTEN:  ... Bullying is a secret scourge; it is far too common in all Australian work places.

There is no excuse for bullying.

Having a parliamentary inquiry, where the voices of people who have been bullied can be heard, where families can explain what they’ve been through, I think puts a very human touch on what is a national problem.

MINISTER SHORTEN: ... I believe that there is enough bipartisan good will to take the initiative of using a parliamentary inquiry to look at having a common national law, wherever you are in Australia, you cannot bully people at work.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, on the issue of bullying, many people would say that we should be leading by example; there’s been some pretty unsavoury scenes in Canberra in recent times.

Should we start there?

PM: Look, I’m not here today to talk about what's happening in Canberra. ...

We are here today ... to respond to that very serious issue of bullying right around the nation at work

It does really disturb me.

We don't even know the size of this; we don't know how many people are feeling under pressure in their workplaces.

We have taken some steps to respond, but now this parliamentary inquiry is the next step, so that we can get national arrangements that make a difference for people who might be feeling fearful at work.

 

House Standing Committee on Education and Employment

Committee activities (inquiries and reports)

Inquiry into workplace bullying

On 31 May 2012 the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Bill Shorten MP, asked the Committee to inquire into and report on workplace bullying.

The Committee invites interested persons and organisations to make submissions addressing the terms of reference by Friday, 29 June 2012. Please refer to our brochure called preparing a submission for more information.

In order to facilitate electronic publishing of submissions, the Committee would prefer them to be emailed to [email protected] or sent on disk or CD-ROM to the Committee Secretariat in Microsoft Word® or Portable Document Format (PDF).

 

Terms of reference

Submissions

Public hearings

Media releases

Report

 

 

http://www.pm.gov.au/press-office/transcript-joint-doorstop-interview-melbourne-3

1June 2012 - the Pre-Inquest Conference.

The pre-inquest conference on the death of Gavin Lyle Woods was held on 1 June 2012 at 10.00am in Brisbane Court 5 : http://www.courts.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/92872/inquest-list-201205-FINAL.pdf 

Issues to be considered were "the work conditions of the deceased at Burpengary State School including the actions taken by the Department of Education to rectify any issues, and the relevance of those conditions and that response to the death of the deceased".

So the 'issues to be considered' by the coroner do seem to have been limited to Gavin's working conditions at Burpengary State School.

Who was responsible for limiting the 'issues to be considered' in this manner?

1 June 2012 : at the pre-inquest hearing, DETE refuse to provide a document requested by the Regional Coroner.

At the Brisbane Coroners Court pre-inquest hearing into the death of Gavin Lyle Woods, it was revealed that -

a) the Queensland Department of Education, Training and Employment had not provided a document requested by Regional Coroner Orazio Rinaudo.

The department cited legal professional privilege.

Crown lawyer representing the department, Ben McMillan, acknowledged the department could be dealt with under section 16 of the Act for failing to provide the information if Mr Rinaudo found it did not have a reasonable excuse for doing so.

It was not disclosed what the document was.

Mr McMillan also argued -

b) the inquest should be adjourned until investigations were finalised because it could be prejudicial.

c) a Workplace, Health and Safety interim report should not be considered.

 
and Mr McMillan questioned -
d) a statement in a letter to the Coroner's office from Crime and Misconduct Commission assistant commissioner Warren Strange which said "we consider none of our current or possible future actions would be adversely impacted by a coronial inquest proceeding at this time".

Counsel assisting the Office of the State Coroner Chris Minnery said it wasn't abnormal for ongoing investigations to be running at the same time as an inquest.

The public interest and that of Mr Woods' family in wanting to know the truth about his death should be considered.

Coroner Rinaudo said he accepted the CMC assistant commissioner's advice as accurate and ruled the inquest would go ahead.

But he ruled not to consider the WHS interim report, as some inaccuracies had slipped through before it was given to the Coroner.

Instead, 32 people interviewed for the WHS report will now be asked for witness statements to assist the Coroner.

The inquest has been set for two weeks, beginning on September 10.

 

Department refuses to release document to coronial inquiry into death of Burpengary State School deputy principal Gavin Lyle Woods, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 4 June 2012

11 August 2012 : Andrea Malfliet, the partner of Gavin Woods, wants Queensland Teachers' Union  members to be aware that the QTU 'do not believe that their participation in the inquest into Gavin Woods' death is a valid use of QTU funding'.

One month before a coroner is set to hear the circumstances surrounding Wood's death, Andrea Malfliet Andrea Malfliet, the partner of former Burpengary State School deputy principal Gavin Woods, has cited concerns about the Queensland Teachers' Union not becoming a party at the inquest.

Ms Malfliet, who also works for Education Queensland, said that, one year on, the circumstances surrounding his death remained shrouded in secrecy and she was looking forward to all the circumstances being put on the table.

But Ms Malfliet said she had asked the Queensland Teachers' Union to offer wider submissions about workplace, health and safety issues - and they had refused.

"Other unions, such as the nurses' union often attend inquests,'' she said.

"Both Gavin and I are long-term QTU members and therefore I requested that QTU make submissions.

"I believe that the membership should be aware that the QTU does not believe that their participation in the inquest is a valid use of union funding.''


 
Former partner of Burpengary State School deputy principal Gavin Woods breaks silence ahead of death probe, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 11 August 2012
22 August 2012, during the pre-inquest hearing into the death of Gavin Woods, a delay was proposed "in light of further materials" that had come to hand. 

The inquest into the death of former Burpengary State School deputy principal Gavin Woods was due to begin at 9.30am on 10 September 2012, and it was expected to take eleven days.

But the inquest will be delayed.

The Terms of Reference of the inquest now seem to have been limited to -

 * Gavin Woods' working conditions at Burpengary State School.

 * The actions taken by the Department of Education to rectify any problems.

 * And the relevance of his working conditions and the actions taken by the Department of Education to Gavin Woods' death.

 

Brisbane Coroner John Lock said the matter was not ready to go ahead at this stage and made an order to resume the pre-inquest hearing on September 19.

In a pre-inquest hearing on Wednesday 22 August, counsel assisting the coroner Chris Minnery said statements needed to be taken from all key witnesses.

‘‘The proposal is that the Queensland Police Service, particularly the Coronial Investigations Unit, undertake that process and they haven’t the staff or the availability to do it quickly,’’ he said.

Mr Minnery said he was also preparing a detailed issue list ‘‘in light of further materials’’ that had come to hand since the inquest process started.

Further discussion was needed on what reports could be placed before the court and a delay would give all parties more time to review witness statements.

Crown lawyer representing the Department of Education, Training and Employment Ben McMillan said a document DETE initially refused to provide to the Coroner on the grounds of legal professional privilege might now be made available.

 
 
 Staff cuts spark delay for inquest, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 24 Aug 2012

PDF] 

Ongoing Inquests Monthly Report

www.courts.qld.gov.au/__.../OngoingInquestsMonthlyReport.pdf
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - Quick View
Inquest part heard Woods, Gavin Lyle. Inquest scheduled for 10 Sep 2012 to 21 Sep 2012 at 9:30am in. Court 4 at BRISBANE. BRISBANE. Ray Rinaudo ...
19 September, 2012 : The third pre-inquest hearing into the death of Gavin Woods. 
Coroner : John Lock
 
Counsel assisting the Coroner : Chris Minnery
 

Witness Statements -

The inquest is at an investigative stage.

Police are in the process of collecting witness statements from people throughout Queensland.

These statements are arriving at the coroner's office almost daily.

 

The Helen Couper Report -

Mr Minnery told the court the Attorney-General had consented to waive legal professional privilege on the Helen Couper report, which the Department of Education, Training and Employment initially refused to provide.

But a non-publication order has been placed on the report's contents with Mr Lock saying this was appropriate as the case was still in the investigation phase.

 

Andrea Malfliet Andrea Malfliet is concerned that information surrounding Gavin Woods' employment in Cairns won't come to light -

Mr Woods' partner Andrea Malfliet told the Coroner she was concerned about an issue submitted regarding Mr Woods' employment.

Brisbane Coroner John Lock replied that coronial investigations had limitations and he was aware of a WorkCover claim.

The Coroner was responding to concerns from Andrea Malfliet about excluding the circumstances surrounding Gavin Woods' Cairns teaching role from one of the inquest issues.

Ms Malfliet said she was worried the steps that led to Mr Woods' mental health condition "won't come to light".

"He (Mr Minnery) said that that was going to be changed to just looking at whether the information surrounding Gavin's employment in Cairns should have been transferred to Brisbane, and I am concerned that if that happens then the whole circumstances in relation to Gavin's employment in Cairns, and what actually led up to his mental health condition, won't come to light," she said.

Mr Lock agreed that matters in Cairns provided "significant context" for "Mr Woods's state" when he died.

"It's my view the matters in Cairns are important ... "

But Mr Lock said that Gavin Woods' time at the Burpengary school was more important.

"It's not a royal commission in relation to bullying issues in Education Queensland," Mr Lock said.

"There has to be a limitation whereby the investigation and the inquest itself deals with matters connected to the investigation of Mr Woods."

Mr Lock said he believed it was more important to know whether, and to what extent, information about Mr Woods' condition was communicated to Brisbane.

He said there would have been information given to Human Resources, Education Queensland and Work Cover.

"What I think is important is the extent to which that information was known to those who made the decision to transfer Mr Woods to Burpengary," he said.

"If it wasn't known, why was that? Is there some reason, some policy that makes that type of information restricted?"

 

Andrea Malfliet has leave to ask witnesses questions -

Mr Lock gave Ms Malfliet leave to appear in the proceedings.

This means Ms Malfliet can ask witnesses questions.

 

Mr Lock said he hoped the inquest would provide the family with some of the answers they sought, though he could not guarantee it.

 

Outside court, Ms Malfliet said she was pleased the court had given her "a voice".

Ms Malfliet said that -

The Queensland Teachers' Union had refused to be a party to the inquest.

And the QTU had also refused to provide legal assistance.

"I'm just relieved there is an inquest and all the circumstances surroundings Gavin's death are openly discussed," the Wamuran Basin woman said.

"I'm hoping this is an excellent learning opportunity so that people in similar situations don't follow the same path."

  

Bullying not part of inquest: Coroner, Rae Wilson, Fraser Coast Chronicle, 20 September 2012 http://www.frasercoastchronicle.com.au/story/2012/09/20/bullying-not-part-inquest-coroner/ 

Inquest into death not bullying, Rae Wilson, Caboolture News, 20th September 2012 :  http://www.caboolturenews.com.au/story/2012/09/20/inquest-death-not-bullying/

Workplace bullying expert may be consulted for inquest into death of Gavin Woods, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 20 September 2012  : http://www.news.com.au/national/workplace-bullying-expert-may-be-consulted-for-inquest-into-death-of-gavin-woods/story-fndo4ckr-1226477594505

2 November 2012 : Julie Grantham suddenly announces her resignation as Queensland's Director-General of Education.

Education, Training and Employment Director-General Julie Grantham emailed staff yesterday advising them she would be retiring from the post next Friday, November 9, seven months into the LNP government's first term

Ms Grantham only tendered her resignation to Premier Campbell Newman yesterday.

 

The move has sparked immediate speculation as to the reasons behind Ms Grantham's  departure.

 

During 2007 - 2008 Ms Grantham also served as a Director-General for the Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney General.

 

Education, Training and Employment director-general Julie Grantham announces sudden retirement, effective November 9, Sarah Vogler, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail 2 November 2012
The Runaway Bay Story
26 November 2012 : The Federal Labor Government Parliamentary Inquiry into Workplace Bullying Committee release their report.
18 December 2012 : Bligh Labor Government's 2011 Workplace Bullying Report is finally released. The report warns that Workplace Bullying is a serious issue in Queensland.

Labor Industrial Relations Minister Cameron Dick set up a review of Workplace Bullying in Queensland on 10 July 2011 -

 - fourteen days after Burpengary State School Deputy Principal Gavin Woods had been found dead -

 - and nine days after the CMC received a workplace bullying complaint concerning Burpengary State School.

The Bligh Labor Government received The Workplace Bullying in Queensland Review Report in December 2011 -

 - but they failed to release the report.

 

The Bligh Labor Government's Workplace Bullying in Queensland Review Report was finally released to Tanya Chilcott of The Courier-Mail  one year later - in December 2012, after the change of Government and after the publication of the Report of the Federal Government Parliamentary Inquiry into Workplace Bullying.

The Bligh Labor Government Report warns that Workplace Bullying is a serious issue in Queensland.

The report paints a picture of a confusing system for workplace bullying victims who can be misled or given the wrong information when they first seek help from union delegates, human resource officers, doctors and lawyers.

The Report highlighted the need for training to ensure that "correct, consistent and appropriate advice/support is provided by third parties".
Robina Cosser says - but what did the Report say about actually stopping the workplace bullying?
 
Yes, bullied teachers are given very poor and even harmful advice - but the main problem is not the advice - the main problem is the workplace bullying.
What does the Report say about stopping the Workplace Bullying?

It recommended an "inter-agency group", which would act as a first stop for victims and could provide mediation and conciliation early in the cycle of bullying behaviour.

 

The report suggested Workplace Health and Safety Queensland "ensure structures are in place to facilitate the referral" of extreme workplace bullying cases to police.

 

 

Report recommended clearer systems to deal with workplace bullying, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 18 December 2012

25 January 2013 : 10:00am, Court 4, Brisbane : The Pre-Inquest hearing into the death of Gavin Woods.

The Coroner : John Lock.

The Terms of Reference of the Inquest.

(Seem to) have been limited to the findings required by section 45(2) of the Coroners Act 2003.

 * The work conditions of the deceased at the Burpengary State School.

 * The actions taken by the Department of Education, Training and Employment to rectify any issues.

 * The relevance of those conditions and that response to the death of the deceased.

 
Department of Education North Coast Region's Human Resources staff. 
 
Alana Martens, counsel assisting the Coroner, told the court that the Queensland Department of Education North Coast Region's Human Resources staff have told her that "with the benefit of hindsight, Burpengary might not have been the best place for a teacher - - that may have been a bit fragile''.

The Potential Systemic Issues

In addressing the Brisbane Coroner's Court, Counsel assisting the Coroner Alana Martens also mentioned an "investigation into potential systematic issues", advising that the education department's lawyer might be able to provide further information.

The Queensland Department of Education's lawyer Ben McMillan told the court the issue "seems to arise as a result of the letter to the Crime and Misconduct Commission from the Ethical Standards Unit".

"Can I advise your Honour that broadly speaking that issue has resulted in further investigations in relation to two particular individuals," Mr McMillan said.

 

 

Burpengary State School Children's Issues

Coroner John Lock said he was not sure if complaints made by children regarding the school would make the inquest because they might not be relevant.

The complaints are detailed in a 2012 Ethical Standards Unit report.

The nature of the children's complaints was not raised in court, with Mr Lock yet to decide whether the report will be included as part of the inquest brief.

 

Coroner John Lock set an inquest date of 29 April 2013.

 

 
Coroner hears that deputy principal post not the best move for teacher who is believed to have committed suicide, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 26 January 2013 
Coroner to consider relevance of complaints by students about Burpengary State School, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 28 January 2013
  • 22 March 2013 : Pre-Inquest Conference, Brisbane.
  •  
  • 2 July 2013 : In Cairns, Dr Philip Riley speaks to the World Convention of the International Confederation of Principals.

    1400 delegates were in Cairns on 2 July 2013 to attend the World Convention of the International Confederation of Principals.

    Dr Philip Riley detailed the findings of The Australian Principal health and Wellbeing Survey, conducted by Monash University, a three-year longitudinal survey of 2005 school leaders.

    Nearly 40 per cent of Australian principals reported feeling stressed or bullied at work.

    An average of 8 per cent of the Australian workforce feel stressed or bullied at work. 

     

    Nearly half the principals in Australia's 10,000 schools take prescription medication for a diagnosed condition.

    The implication of the article is that much of the medication is for stress.

     

     

    Robina Cosser says : Research by Dr Dan Riley at UNE in 2007 found that 99.6 per cent of Australian classroom teachers were being bullied at work.

    The researchers reported that the problem seemed to be 'rife' in Queensland.

      

     

    So what did the Queensland Labor government do in response to these shocking 2007 research findings?

    And what did the Queensland Teachers Union do in response to the shocking 2007 research findings?

     

    Because if the answer is, essentially, they did nothing at all -

    - what is the purpose of this sort of research?

    - What is the point in spending public money on research that does not lead to change and improvement?

    - And surely a failure to respond to research findings is a Health and Welfare issue?

     

     

    School principals bullied and assaulted by parents, Peter Michael, P.7, The Courier-Mail, 3 July 2013

    Teachers are 'worst school bullies', Elizabeth Allen and Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, Wednesday 13 May, 2009  

    National teacher-bullying crisis, Bruce McDougall, Education Reporter, The Daily Telegraph, Friday 30 November, 2007 

    Teachers "bullied more" in public schools, Tamara Davis, The Australian, December 15, 2007 

    22 July 2013 : The Inquest into the death of Gavin Woods began.

    The inquest into Gavin Woods's death began in Court 4 at Brisbane Magistrates' Court.

     

    Six members of this website attended all or part of the inquest.

    No Queensland Teachers Union representative was present.

    The court amplification system was not very good and there was a fair amount of noise in the public areas, so I could not hear what was going on very clearly.

    And there were references to evidence that is obviously known to the barristers but that I know nothing about.

    If I misunderstood anything anybody said, or if you feel that I have not represented your evidence accurately, I would appreciate it if you could let me know -

    [email protected]

    Newspaper reports.

    I have always presumed that newspaper reports present a full picture of what is "going on" in court.

    But I now realise that reporters may only be in the courtroom for a short part of the day.

    They may report the testimony of one witness but not the testimony of another witness who tells quite a different story.

    I now realise that newspaper reports can actually give quite a deceptive view of a situation.

    Andrea Malfliet told the inquest that, in her opinion, workplace bullying prompted Gavin to suicide.

    Andrea Malfliet Andrea Malfliet, Gavin Woods's partner, spoke to the court.

    Ms Malfliet said she believed that Gavin had been bullied at two Queensland schools - first at Whitfield State School in Cairns, Far North Queensland, and later at Burpengary State School, north of Brisbane.

    Addressing Brisbane Coroner John Lock, Ms Malfliet said: "I have already made submissions to you that it is my view that workplace bullying is a significant contributing factor to Gavin's death".

    "It is only through exposing the secrecy of bullying that it can be addressed authentically," she said.

    Mr Lock said there was no doubt systemic issues had been identified during the course of this investigation, but it was not the inquest's role to become an unlimited inquiry into the extent of any bullying in Education Queensland.

     

    Ms Malfliet described Gavin Woods as a popular, intelligent, hard-working family man with integrity, who was a country boy at heart.

    Gavin loved the outdoors.

    Ms Malfliet described Gavin as a romantic, who always remembered anniversaries, and someone she shared many memories with, including ballroom dancing and squash.

    Ms Malfliet said he had a playful nature but was an intelligent, hard-working man with exceptional social skills.

    "Gavin was a do-er and continually made a difference with students," she said.

    "At home was a man of integrity with standards and expectations.

    "Bad manners were never acceptable.

    "He would often say, "what goes around comes around".

    "That philosophy reflects how he lived his life.

    "Gavin treated others how he liked to be treated.

    Ms Malfliet said that she did not see Gavin as  'vulnerable' man.

    She saw him as resilient, because he had overcome many problems.

    "However behind the joking, extraverted Gavin, there was sensitive Gavin who was very hard on himself and deliberated every day about the decisions he had to make and if he could have done things differently to achieve a different outcome."

     

    Ms Malfliet broke down into tears a number of times while on the stand.

    Ms Malfliet said she believed that the workplace bullying contributed to Gavin's decision to suicide.

    Gavin did not believe that the department would support him in dealing with the problem.

    His previous experience had been so negative.  

    He had lost all faith in the Department's policies and processes.

    Ms Malfliet said she had not realised how serious the situation had become -  she had expected that the problem at Burpengary would be resolved - and so she had not suggested that Gavin seek some psychiatric support.

    Ms Malfliet became very distressed after explaining this, and the coroner called a short break.

    Ms Malfliet later spoke to the Media, saying that the Queensland Department of Education needed to deal with the issue of workplace bullying in Queensland schools.

    Ms Malfliet said that there was not a lot of point to Departmental of Education policies if they were not implemented.

     

    Bullying prompted teacher to commit suicide: court, Miranda Forster, The Brisbane Times, 22 July 2013

    Partner of former Burpengary State School deputy principal Gavin Woods tells Coroner's inquest that workplace bullying contributed to his death , Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 23 July 2013

    Inquest hears workplace bullying a factor in suicide, Rae Wilson, The Ipswich Advertiser, 23 July, 2013

    Brisbane Coroner John Lock says that it is too soon to say that Gavin Woods was bullied.

    Crown Lawyer Ben McMillan is representing the Queensland Department of Education, Training and Employment at the inquest into the death of Gavin Woods.

    Ben McMillan asked Brisbane Coroner John Lock to remind the press that the inquest was not investigating workplace bullying at Whitfield State School or any systemic workplace bullying at Burpengary State School.

    Mr Lock said this was correct and that there had been no determination about anything at this stage.

    Mr Lock said it was premature to suggest that workplace bullying had caused anything.

    Mr Lock said that he would determine whether or not any particular conduct constitued workplace bullying in the context of the HR policies of Education Queensland.

     

    Inquiry into death of Burpengary State School principal Gavin Woods hears bullying suggestion "premature", Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 23 July 2013.

     

    Tony Constance, Principal of Whitfield State School.

    Tony Constance, Principal of Whitfield State School, addressed Gavin Woods' family and said he was sorry for their loss.

    "I continue to be saddened by his loss but I cannot imagine how sad it is for you, his family," he said.

    "My thoughts continue to be with you."

     

    Mr Constance described Gavin as a lovely person, very friendly and enthusiastic.

    He liked Gavin as a person.

    Mr Constance said he had no problems with the way that Gavin dressed at Whitfield State School.

     

    Mr Constance said that school principals are very busy.

    They have a lot of paperwork.

    Sometimes school principals have to work through the holidays to complete all of the paperwork.

    When Mr Constance spoke to Gavin, he asked him to take notes.

    (Mrs Bradford said that Mr Constance liked all staff to take notes when he spoke to them.)

    Mr Constance said that Gavin gave the children a lot of time.  

    Gavin seemed to need the children to be his friends.

    Gavin dealt with parents well.

    Mr Constance had no student protection issues with Gavin.

    Mr Constance did not notice Gavin engaging in any 'flirtatious behaviour' with male or female staff.

     

    But Mr Constance thought that Gavin was weak at pulling people together and getting things done.

     

    Mr Constance told the court he didn't notice anything out of the ordinary about Mr Woods before Mr Woods left the school. 

     

    Mr Constance had wanted Mr Woods to come back to Whitfield State School so he could "keep working on him".

    Mr Constance felt that this was his ethical duty.

     

    Mr Constance said that he had NOT told Gavin Woods he was going to be put on Managing Unsatisfactory Performance (MUP).

     

    But there was a possibility that Gavin would have been on MUP if he had stayed.

    Mr Constance had mentioned this to the Regional Director.

     

     

     

     

     

     Qld principal laments deputy's suicide, Miranda Forster, AAP, July 22 2013  

    Partner of former Burpengary State School deputy principal Gavin Woods tells Coroner's inquest that workplace bullying contributed to his death , Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 23 July 2013

    The Psychologist.

    Robina Cosser says : I had very grave concerns when I listened to the evidence of the psychologist.

    I understand that the treatment Gavin received was the "one size fits all" treatment that people who go to psychologists are given, but it seemed to me to be really inappropriate in his case :

    Gavin Woods was popular with children. They really loved him. He was really good with boys who had problems - but his principal believed he was taking too much time with the children, keeping them out of class. His principal said (I understand) that Gavin 'needed the children to be his friend'.

    Gavin had computer skills - but his principal said he was spending too long on the computer.

    Gavin got on well with the other deputy principal - but his principal said (I understand) that Gavin was was 'blocking the other deputy's productivity'.

    Gavin's professional strengths were being spun into negatives.

    And the psychologist seemed to be asking Gavin to look for the positives in all of this negativity.

    It all seemed to me to be a bit like asking the Jewish people in Belsen to look for the positives in what Hitler was doing to them.

     

    And the Queensland Department of Education had paid for Gavin to have exactly three sessions of this 'psychological treatment'.

    I think there is a need for psychologists to ask themselves if what they are doing really makes sense.

    Why do the department pay them to focus on one person in a problem workplace situation?

    Why don't the department ask the psychologist to treat both people involved in the situation?

    And do psychologists have a conflict of interest in accepting departmental money to put teachers through this sort of 'treatment'?

    I suspect this dysfunctional 'psychological treatment' may actually be making Queensland teachers more ill.

     

    Scott Rodgers, Education Queensland Human Resources officer for Far North Queensland.

    Mr Rodgers explained that Gavin's first application for a transfer away from Whitfield State School had been refused because Gavin had not been at Whitfield for three years.

    The second application was accepted because it was made after Andrea Malfliet had been given a transfer.

    The second application was accepted as a compassionate transfer.

    Waiting for Andrea to be notified of her transfer had caused some delay in Gavin's transfer application process.

    Scott Rodgers said that officers arranging transfers did not discuss teachers' health problems, etc. because of privacy concerns, and also because other regions may be reluctant to take teachers who have problems.

    Scott Rodgers said there may be a need to change the transfer process.

    It might be better if principals chose their own staff.

    Scott Rodgers also said that teachers who were under a formal MUP process were not relocated.

    (So Gavin seems to have been anxious to get a transfer before he was trapped at Whitfield State School in an MUP process.)

    Tanya Owens, Education Queensland staffing officer.

    Tanya Owens negotiated a position for Gavin Woods at Burpengary State School.

    Ms Owens told the court that there had been no discussion of any issues at Whitfield State School or that Gavin Woods was on a Return To Work program.

    Ms Owens told the court that if a teacher is in a formal Managing Unsatisfactory Performance (MUP) process they cannot be relocated.

    If the principal signs the relocation form, it means that there are no performance issues.

     

    Tanya Owens was asked if Burpengary State School was 'different' in any way.

    Ms Owens told the court that if any issues were raised by the staff at Burpengary State School she had been instructed to advise a senior officer.

     

    If Ms Owens had known about Gavin's medical issues and his emotional vulnerability, she would have looked for a supportive environment.

    If Tanya Owens had asked Scott Rodgers directly, she thought he would probably have told her about Gavin's issues, but there was no reason to ask because on paper everything looked fine.

    And, on paper, Burpengary State School looked like an excellent school.

    Roxie Borserini, deputy principal at Burpengary State School.

    Roxie Borserini, one of the other deputies at Burpengary State School, said she found Mr Woods to be "a very cheerful person, rather overconfident, and rather loud in voice, very easy to get on with".

    Gavin Woods often told Ms Borserini that he had not passed Year 10 Maths.

    "(He was) lacking great knowledge in curriculum, and requiring assistance in dealing with behaviour problems with older children," Ms Borserini said.

    Mrs Borserini explained that Burpengary State School had special policies for dealing with children's behaviour problems.

    For example, if a Burpengary State School teacher wants to speak to a child about poor behaviour, the door must be closed so that other children cannot hear what the teacher is saying.

    Robina Cosser : as a teacher I know that this Burpengary State School policy would put any teacher, and any male teacher in particular, at great risk of false allegations.

     

    Similarly, when speaking to a whole class about poor behaviour, the door must be closed so that no other class can hear what the teacher is saying.

    Ms Borserini told the court she had been asked to guide Mr Woods through curriculum and it was decided they would work on this for half an hour, three times a week.

    Mr Woods seemed to find these sessions with Ms Borserini very stressful.

    He would want to leave after 15 minutes.

    He would say that he had to go.

    Mrs Borserini did not want to increase his stress because "it was obvious to everybody how stressed the man was. He said he was always like that."

    This observation seemed to conflict with Ms Borserini's earlier observation that Gavin was "a very cheerful person, rather overconfident, and rather loud in voice, very easy to get on with".

     

    Asked whether Mr Woods dressed appropriately for school, Ms Borserini replied: "He did after some time when it was suggested that a tie might be more appropriate for the position of deputy principal in our school, and shoes rather than the boots that he was wearing were probably more appropriate and he complied".

    Did Gavin have to buy new shoes and clothing for Burpengary State School?

    Was this another expense to worry about?

    Gavin Woods did not run the Burpengary State School sports day in "the Burpengary way", Roxie Borserini told the Coroners inquest.

    Mr Woods was told in a meeting with Paula Passi that he shouldn't have been wearing football shorts, he should have been wearing knee-length dress shorts.

    He was also told that while he was Master of Ceremonies, as MC he didn't follow protocol.

    It was put to Ms Borserini that at the meeting Mr Woods had been very apologetic at the meeting.

    Ms Borserini said she could not recall.

    Ms Borserini said she knew nothing about the investigation that had taken place at Burpengary State School in 2009.

     

    Burpengary State School death inquest hears teacher Gavin Woods criticised over handling of sports day, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 24 July 2013 

    Burpengary State School deputy Gavin Woods `hit the wall' after conversation with principal, inquest told , Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 25 July 2013 

    Paul Woodrow - Burpengary State School Queensland Teachers Union  representative.

    Paul Woodrow told the court that Paula Passi liked to have the best quality teachers at her school.

    Mrs Passi monitored new teachers closely.

    Mrs Passi was very demanding.

    Mr Woodrow told the court that, after the "off the record" discussion, Ms Passi had told Mr Woods he needed to go home and think about whether he wanted to continue in the role and what he could do to improve, because otherwise he would be put on Diminished Workplace Performance (DWP).

     

    Burpengary State School deputy Gavin Woods `hit the wall' after conversation with principal, inquest told , Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 25 July 2013  
    Mrs Lyn Mellors, also a deputy principal at Burpengary State School.

    Lyn Mellors told the court that she had a very good working relationship with Gavin Woods.

    Gavin had very good manners.

    He joked and chatted.

    He liked to entertain people.

    Lyn Mellors said she missed Gavin.

    Lyn Mellors talked about the problems that Gavin had experienced during the move to Burpengary - floods, the shipping container was in a fire, Gavin and Andrea had to move out of their rented unit, Gavin's boat was damaged, etc.

    Lyn Mellors said that Gavin got anxious when things went wrong and he tried to fix the problem.

    Mrs Mellors and Gavin Woods were responsible for the senior school, grades 5-7.

     

    Gavin used to say to Mrs Mellors, "You tell me what to do and how to do it and I will do it."

    Once a week he would ask Mrs Mellors, "How am I going?"

     

    Mrs Mellors said that Gavin appeared to be more confident than he really was.

    Paula Passi, Principal, Burpengary State School.

    Mrs Passi passed on her condolences to Andrea Malfliet, Gavin's partner.

     

    Paula Passi said that Gavin Woods had had a lot of domestic issues when he first arrived at Burpengary State School - he had to move accommodation, his goods were damaged, his boat was damaged, he did not get transfer expenses, he did not have insurance.

    Gavin seemed to be anxious most of the time.

    Paula Passi told Gavin to take the time to get settled.

     

    Mrs Passi found Gavin to be very earnest.

    He would pull up a chair and ask for feedback.

    He was very eager to please and affable.

    Gavin told them he had chosen the school.

     

    Mrs Lyn Mellors was to share her job with Gavin Woods.

    They were a team.

    Gavin was a listener.

    He did not ask many questions.

    He took criticism very calmly.

     

    But Gavin "operated from a power basis with children", Mrs Passi believed.

    Mrs Passi wanted Gavin to operate from a relational basis.

     

    Robina Cosser says : How very strange.

    a) Paula Passi seems to have been criticising Gavin for doing what she had been criticised (and put into a training course) for doing herself.

    b) And, of course,  this is the exact opposite to the criticism made by Tony Constance.

    Tony Constance wanted Gavin to have less of a 'relational operational basis' with the students.

     

    Mrs Passi told the court that Gavin seemed to to find it difficult when curriculum was discussed. 

    Gavin seemed stressed.

    Gavin knew nothing about the National Curriculum.

    And he often told Mrs Passi and Mrs Borserini that he had not passed Grade 10 English and Maths.

    Mrs Passi believed that Mrs Borserini "in her own lovely way" was very good at Curriculum in the context of Burpengary State School.

     

    Mrs Passi and the Burpengary deputies always had a muffin and coffee after parade.

    Gavin would regale them with his stories.

    Paula Passi allowed Gavin to tell his stories.

    Robina Cosser says : I had the impression, when listening to Mrs Passi and Mrs Borserini, that Gavin's country-style male behaviour both amused and irritated the Burpengary ladies.

    And that this may have made Gavin feel nervous.

    Which may explain why they both describe Gavin as stressed and 'anxious most of the time'.

     

    Paula Passi arranged for Gavin to spend some time observing a Burpengary Special Needs teacher.

    Mrs Passi hoped this would improve Gavin's curriculum knowledge and allow him to build relationships with this group of boys.

    Mrs Passi said that the Special Needs teacher loved having Gavin in her classroom.

     

    Mrs Lyn Mellors had given Gavin certain work to do.

    Mrs Passi told the court that Mrs Mellors had told her that Gavin was a bit tardy.

    (Lyn Mellors later told the court she had no complaints about anything concerning Gavin. Mrs Mellors said she missed Gavin.)

     

    Mrs Passi questioned the validity of the Education Queensland "Merit Selection Process".

    Mrs Passi said that she did not really want to use the MUP process because it was "a nightmare of paperwork" for a principal.

    The principal has to gather a lot of information.

     

    Paula Passi told the Brisbane Coroner's Court that she believed her management of Gavin Woods "precipitated" a decision to stand her down.

    Mrs Passi also told the court she was given no definitive reason as to why she was stood down and it took over 100 days for her to be given a statement of allegations.

     

    Principal sought answers over ban, Tanya Chilcott, Caboolture Shire Herald, 1 August 2013

    Steve Cook, Principal Human Resources Manager for the North Coast Region.

    Steve Cook, Human Resources manager for the North Coast Region, explained that Paula Passi had a training plan during the second half of 2010.

    Ms Susanne Pearce was responsible for the training plan.

    Any concerns about Paula Passi were to be reported to Ms Pearce.

    Four complaints had been raised.

    Ms Pearce said Paula Passi was aware of these concerns.

    Steve Cook saw a pattern developing.

    Steve Cook briefed Ken Collier on the problems at Burpengary State School.

    He told him there had been some later issues, including one more before Gavin Woods's problems.

    Steve Cook went to Burpengary State School on two occasions to discuss developments.

    Dr Rosemary Gan, sleep specialist.

    Dr Gan saw Gavin on Monday 30 May 2011.

    Andrea was also present.

    Gavin had a sleep disorder - sleep apnoea.

    He had a 75% reduction in his oxygen levels.

    His health was at risk.

    Dr Gan told the court that sleep apnoea can be caused by anxiety or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

    Gavin had been referred to Dr Gan by his dentist.

    Gavin had completed a health questionnaire.

    Gavin mentioned on the questionnaire that he had suffered from depression.

    Dr Gan said it was 'like pulling teeth' to get information from Gavin.

    He was very shy.

    Gavin did not mention work problems and he did not mention that he had been off work for one term because of stress.

    Gavin could not remember what medication he was taking.

    But Dr Gan said the teaching profession is flagged - teachers often suffer from anxiety.

    Dr Gan often asks about stress 'down the path' if she is dealing with a teacher.

    Gavin showed no sign of severe depression or suicidal ideation.

    He had a standard history of poor sleep.

    The General Practitioner.

    Gavin Woods first consulted his Mareeba General Practitioner in 2002-2003.

    This GP knew Gavin socially in a small-town way - they played cricket and golf together.

    Gavin's GP knew that Gavin had previously been to a psychologist and had been treated for anxiety and depression.

    Gavin told his GP that he did not believe that the psychologist had improved his mental health and so he did not want to go to another one.

    Gavin's GP knew that Gavin had been through two relationship breakdowns.

    One of Gavin's siblings had attempted suicide on a number of occasions.

    One of Gavin's parents had mental health issues.

    At one school (before Whitfield State School) Gavin had had problems with the senior officers.

    Gavin did not complain about workplace bullying at that school, just of relationship issues.

    Gavin had become stressed before the school holidays.

    His GP had "got him to the holidays" and the depression had partly resolved during the holidays.

    Gavin's GP told the Coroner's Inquest that Gavin was vulnerable to workplace issues.

    Gavin's GP said that we all have our unique way of dealing with problems.

    Gavin did not have useful ways of dealing with problems.

    Gavin constantly ruminated over the past.

    He was vulnerable when relationships broke down.

    But work was Gavin's major stressor. 

    Gavin believed he was being treated unfairly at Whitfield State School and at one previous school.

    The expert psychiatrist.

    The expert psychiatrist had no direct knowledge of Gavin Woods and his life.

    She had never met Gavin.

    Her opinions seemed to be based on a limited selection of the evidence.

     

    The expert psychologist told the Coroner's Inquest that there were two main types of depression -

    1) a reaction to external circumstances.

    2) biological depression - with no obvious external event, or some minor external event.

     

    This second type of depression is caused by a chemical malfunction in the brain.

    Treatment for depression is with anti-depressive medication.

    If people are suicidal, they are given Electrical Convulsive Treatment.

    Robina Cosser says - Can you wonder that Gavin was reluctant to consult a psychologist if he knew that ECT was 'down the track' for him?

    The expert psychiatrist told the Coroner's Inquest that the documentation that she had seen suggested that Gavin had a major depressive disorder with melancholic features.

    A person with this condition would be experiencing feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, negativity and suicidal ideation.

    They would feel overwhelmed, unable to cope.

    They would feel no joy, lose their appetite, lose weight and lose libido.

    There is a biological basis for the condition.

    Robina Cosser says : Again, the expert psychiatrist's advice to the court did not seem to make sense to me.

    This was no "minor external event".

    This was a reaction to an "obvious external circumstance". 

    Gavin's whole career was at stake.

    And five (?) other Burpengary State school teachers had also complained about Mrs Passi's behaviour.


    And it was the Queensland Teachers Union and the Queensland Department of Education that seemed to have adopted an informal policy of dealing with the problems at Burpengary by throwing teachers into Burpengary State School and then waiting to see if the teacher complained.

    If the teacher complained, the teacher was moved out of Burpengary.

     

    The expert psychiatrist told the court that Gavin had suffered a long-standing severe Major Depressive Disorder from 2002.

    The low dose of Lexapro that Gavin was taking for the first six months of 2011 "would not have been anywhere near sufficient".

    Gavin's medication should have been gradually increased during 2011 till the correct level was reached.

    The expert psychologist told the Coroner's Inquest that, if Gavin had stayed at 10ML of Lexapro, his mental health would have declined.

     

    The expert Psychiatrist told the Coroner's Inquest that Gavin over-reacted to stress.

    The expert psychiatrist told the Coroner's Inquest that she found Mr Wood moved schools to avoid his problems with principals.

    "He tended to deal with stressors in the workplace by moving and changing the circumstances and thinking that solved the problem," she said.

    "But the problem was within himself as well so it arises again.

    "That is a pattern of avoidance ... a problem solving or a defence mechanism.

    "It, perhaps, seemed to solve an immediate problem."

    But moving was also a significant change and a stressor.

     

     

     

    Robina Cosser says : Once again, the expert psychologist's advice to the Coroner's Inquest did not make sense to me. 

    It was the QTU and the Department of Education  informal policy that teachers who complained about Mrs Passi's behaviour should be moved from Burpengary.

    This seems to have been the easiest way for the QTU and the Department of Education to deal with the problems in the transfer process. 

    It suggests that the Department and the QTU had  deliberately and negligently adopted an informal policy of subjecting teachers to stress at Burpengary State School and then, if they complained,  more stress in moving away from Burpengary.

     

     

    The expert psychiatrist opined that "management action was appropriate based on the evidence of the principal - Mrs Passi".

    Mrs Passi's statement was unbiased, impressive and the facts were set out clearly.

     

    Well, of course Mrs Passi would think that her actions were appropriate!

    And Gavin was not in court to tell his version of events.

    But wasn't the expert psychiatrist aware of Gavin's claim that several other teachers were being bullied at Whitfield State School?

    And wasn't she aware that five or more teacher had recently made formal complaints about Mrs Passi's behaviour?

    And that one of these complaints, at least, had been substantiated?

    The expert psychiatrist explained the factors that she believed contributed to Gavin's decision to commit suicide -

    1) Gavin had been dealing with a major depressive disorder for ten years.

    2) The difficulties at Burpengary State School.

    3) The move.

    4) Depression would have contributed to performance problems - poor concentration, focus and study had made it difficult for Gavin to deal with the new curriculum.

    5) Gavin had experienced two failed relationships before Andrea and so he was expecting a failed relationship with Andrea.

     

     

    But Andrea Malfliet observed that in the weeks prior to his suicide, Gavin had -

    1) Conducted a successful moderation meeting at Burpengary State school.

    2) Entered and won a motorised esky race with the 4WD club.

    3) Played squash with Andrea.

    4) Signed up for tennis.

    5) Enjoyed playstation.

    6) Enjoyed watching football.

    7) Planned the construction of his workshop.

    8) Booked a game of golf with his parents in the holidays.

     

    Ms Malfliet, a qualified psychologist, asked the expert psychiatrist who had never met Gavin how these behaviours would be consistent with her diagnosis. 

    Fight over phone bill could have lead to deputy's suicide, Rae Wilson, 6 August 2013, The Sunshine Coast Daily.

    Terry Evans, Queensland Teachers Union Organiser, QTU Sunshine Coast Office.

    Terry Evans,Queensland Teachers Union Organiser, QTU Sunshine Coast Office. told the court that he was responsible for 5000 Queensland Teachers Union members.

    95% of QTU members had difficulties.

    Some can't put a couple of words together.

    They are silent - in shock.

    Terry Evans went with Gavin Woods to the meeting with Steve Cook, Principal Human Resources Manager for the North Coast Region.

    Terry Evans knew that Gavin Woods was one of several teachers from Burpengary who had had problems.

    Terry Evans beleved that the best thing was simply to move teachers who had problems at Burpengary State School away from the school.

    Terry Evans told the Coroner's Inquest that he been concerned about Regional Office action in relation to Burpengary State School.

    There had been "a pattern of inaction" about problems at Burpengary.

    A number of teachers had had problems at the school and had been re-located.

    Burpengary State School was "out of kilter" with the rest of the schools on the Sunshine Coast.

    The children's desks were in rows and could not be moved.

    The 'dress standards' for Burpengary teachers were strange.

    Terry Evans had often spoken with Paul Woodrow about problems at the school.

    Terry Evans told the Coroner's Inquest that Paula Passi's management style led to problems, mostly concerning professional integrity.

    People could not teach in the way that they wanted to teach.

    Paula Passi was authoritative and inflexible.

    Terry Evans told the Coroner's Inquest that there was a Departmental reluctance to deal with Paula Passi over issues.

    The Department liked to support principals.

    There was a "Code of Silence" in relation to Burpengary State School, both before and after Gavin Woods' death.

    There was secrecy - you did not hear much about what was 'going on'.

    Terry Evans told the Coroner's Inquest that he had told Ken Collier, Assistant Regional Director, North Coast Region, that Burpengary State School was a toxic working environment.

    Mrs Susanne Pearce, Executive Director School Improvement (now retired). 

    Mrs Susanne Pearce was responsible for Paula Passi's training program during the second half of 2010.

    Mrs Pearce told the Coroner's Inquest that Paula Passi had been left 'battered and bruised' by an investigation into problems at Burpengary State School (the details of this earlier '2007-2008 case' investigation were not made public during the Coroner's Inquest).

    This earlier '2007-2008 case' investigation had gone on for a long time and Paula Passi had found it very stressful.

    Paula Passi did not want to go through anything like it again.

    As a result of this earlier investigation, Paula Passi was required to attend a program of professional development in areas such as working with staff.

    The '2007-2008 case' had taken place before Susanne Pearce came into her role, but she had read the '2007-2008 case' report.

    Susanne Pearce was given no specific instructions for Mrs Passi's training plan, she developed it herself.

    Mrs Pearce kept no written records of Mrs Passi's training plan, so the Coroner's Court had to totally rely on her (and Mrs Passi's) verbal evidence concerning the conduct of the training plan.

    One issue that had come up during the earlier investigation was how teachers' performance was 'developed' at the school.

    Another issue was teachers' leave applications.

    And teachers' transfer applications.

    If Paula Passi was considering refusing these applications, it needed to be discussed.

    Performance issues needed to be discussed with teachers in an on-going process, not just at the end of the year.

    Susanne Pearce told the Coroner's Inquest that Paula Passi needed to work on the impressions that she created when she spoke to teachers.

    Mrs Passi may not have intended to create certain impressions, but they were being created.

    People had a certain impression of Paula Passi and she needed to be aware of it.

    Paula Passi's behaviour could be interpreted as intimidating by certain people, depending on their own experience.

    People had complained about Paula Passi's voice and her manner.

    After talking to Mrs Passi, Susanne Pearce told the Coroner's Court that she did not think that Paula Passi was bullying these teachers.

    The problem was the teachers' interpretation of Paula Passi's behaviour.

     

    Any issue at Burpengary State School was to be referred to Susanne Pearce.

     

     

    An issue arose with a member of the administrative team at Burpengary State School.

    This member of the administrative team did not want to work the way that Paula Passi wanted her to work.

    Susanne Pearce offered this teacher concerned a 'facilitiated discussion'.

    The teacher refused to participate in the facilitated discussion.

    The teacher was given a transfer to 'a very different school' and seems to have settled well at her new school.

    Susanne Pearce talked to Paula Passi about how this member of the administrative team had perceived her behaviour.

     

     

    A second teacher made a complaint.

    This teacher also refused Susanne Pearce's offer of a facilitated discussion.

    Quite a few teachers just wanted to go rather than having a 'faciliatated discussion'.

    This teacher just wanted to move to another school.

    Susanne Pearce thought Paula Passi's behaviour was, in this case, 'Reasonable Management Action'.

     

    A third teacher made a complaint.

    He also refused a facilitated discussion.

    He just wanted to move to another school.

     

    A fourth teacher had been involved in an earlier 'case' concerning Paula Passi.

    This teacher did not want to approach Paula Passi to ask for a transfer.

     

    A fifth teacher was upset because Paula Passi had given her a class of higher performing students and had then told the teacher that her results were not good enough - Paula Passi told the teacher that she had expected her to get better results from the children.

    This teacher thought that she had done her best with the children.

    This teacher raised concerns about her own welfare and the welfare of others.

    Susanne Pearce told the Coroner's Court that Paula Passi's behaviour was 'Reasonable Management Action' but that it could have been interpreted as 'unreasonable'.

    A sixth teacher was worried that Paula Passi had not approved her Senior Teacher application.

    Paula Passi had not blocked the application.

    A seventh teacher thought that Paula Passi was concerned about her.

    But actually Paula Passi was worried about the amount of sick leave that the teacher had taken.

    Paula Passi needed to monitor sick leave.

    Susanne Pearce did not believe that any of these incidents constituted a repeat of the '2007-2008 case' substantiated allegations.

    She had no concerns for the Health and Safety of the staff at Burpengary State School.

    Susanne Pearce told the Coroner's Court that she had worked with Paula Passi for a whole year.

    (I presume Susanne Pearce meant that the first six months was in some informal capacity, because only six months of training were actually completed and I understand that no records of the training were kept). 

    Certain people had perceptions of Mrs Passi that would not be easily changed.

    These people found Mrs Passi's use of her voice and her mannerisms intimidating.

    But Staff Morale had risen from 76 per cent to 92 per cent in one year.

    (Andrea Malfliet later asked Susanne Pearce if she was aware that the '92 per cent' survey had been filled in in front of administrative staff and that teachers had been instructed to hand in their completed forms before leaving the room.)

    Susanne Pearce told the Coroner's Inquest that she had received a lot of very positive feedback from the school.

    She had observed Mrs Passi working with Admin staff.

    She was not present at Mrs Passi's Performance Development meetings with staff.

    She knew that transfer applications had been put in everybody's pigeonhole.

    Susanne Pearce did not ask the QTU representative for feedback.

    Mrs Pearce was concerned for Paula Passi's welfare.

    Paula Passi had a lot of stress at the school.

    She had a lot of people to manage.

    Paula Passi needed somebody to help her to reflect.

    When asked if Paula Passi had ever shown any awareness of the suffering of her staff, Susanne Pearce told the Coroner's Court that Paula Passi was 'devastated'. 

    Paula Passi was willing to do anything possible to make sure it didn't happen again.

     

    At the end of 2010 all positions were spilled and so Susanne Pearce moved into a differnet job.

    And Ken Collier became Assistant Regional Director of the North Coast Region.

    Susanne Pearce told the Coroner's Inquest that she had discussed Paula Passi with Ken Collier.

    Suzanne Pearce told Ken Collier that she was very happy with Paula Passi's committment to self-reflection and to making changes with her work practices.

    Mrs Pearce told Ken Collier that she had worked with Paula Passi for a year and that everything was going to plan.

    Mrs Pearce told Ken Collier that Paula Passi had a clear understanding of her responsibilities.

    Mrs Pearce told Ken Collier she thought that the training program had been a success.

    She had no concerns.

    If there still were concerns after twelve months, the trainer was required to report those concerns.

    Ken Collier was following-up on what was required from 'the 2007 case' (the details of this '2007 case' were not explained to the public).  

    Ken Collier was aware that Paula Passi had an issue before 2010.

     

     

    Andrea Malfliet asked Susanne Pearce if she had discussed taking a 'strength-based' approach to managing teaching staff with Paula Passi, looking at what teachers could do, rather than what they could not do?

    Susanne Pearce said yes, they were looking at celebrating what teachers were achieving rather than what wasn't being done.

    Andrea asked Mrs Pearce how she was able to give Mrs Passi effective feedback when she was so heavily depending on Mrs Passi's self-reporting?

     

    Ken Collier, Assistant Regional Director, North Coast Region.

    Ken Collier told the Coroner's Inquest that he took up the role of Assistant Regional Director, North Coast Region, in early 2011.

    Steve Cook had given him a hard copy of the '2007-2008 case' discipline letter concerning Paula Passi'.

    Susanne Pearce briefed him on what had occurred during the '2007-2008 case' Ethical Standards investigation.

    Ken Collier did not ask Susanne Pearce for a copy of Mrs Passi's training plan.

    He was satisfied with Susanne Pearce's verbal briefing because he understood that the training plan had been successful.

    He thought that his role would be to support Paula Passi in working with the Code of Conduct and the Managing Performance Framework.

    Principals have the right to have performance conversations, but they must be done in a reasonable way.

    Teachers need be acknowledged for the good things that they are doing so that they will keep doing them.

    But some things need to stop or start.

    This was what Ken Collier wanted - a 'feedback culture'.

     

    Mr Collier told the Coroner's Inquest that he knew Burpengary State School was a tightly controlled school with strong leadership and very clearly detailed curriculum policies.

    He knew that the leadership style was specific to Burpengary State School.

    Some schools had a loose curriculum. Teachers did their own thing. There was no consistency, no whole school plan.

    Burpengary State School was not like that - Burpengary State School had processes.

     

     

    Ken Collier told the Coroner's court about the Developing Performance Framework (DPF) :

    The DPF is a four-stage process :

    School administrators sit down with staff and identify their tasks and roles.

    The DPF is then reviewed to see if perfomance has improved.

     

    Ken Collier never saw Susanne Pearce's training plan for Paula Passi.

    He understood Susanne Pearce to say that Paula Passi's training plan had been successful.

    Ken Collier wanted to create a 'feedback (from teachers) culture' in schools.

    A lot of teachers were happy to work at Burpengary State School.

    Robina Cosser says : I was also told by a person working at Burpengary State School that many teachers were happy to work at Burpengary because there were very few behaviour problems at the school.

    When Paula Passi raised an issue with Human Resources in 2011, wanting to put another (not Gavin, another teacher) on Managing Unsatisfactory Performance Ken Collier told Paula Passi it was too early to be putting this 'first 2011' teacher on MUP.

    Ken Collier told the Coroner's Inquest that the timing of an MUP process is up to a school principal.

    But the principal needs to give a teacher the skills they need.

    Ken Collier told the Coroner's Inquest that Mrs Passi had been told 'a dozen times' to use the Developing Performance Framework process, not the MUP process.

    First Mrs Passi needed to collect data on the teacher.

    She needed to conduct an induction process.

    She needed to use a DPF.

    Ken Collier talked about what Mrs Passi had learned the previous year.

    Paula Passi told Ken Collier that she did not want to 'go down the path of last year'.

    She told Ken Collier that teachers were thinking of making Grievances because this first 2011 teacher 'was not a team player'.

    Paula Passi told Ken Collier that she was under stress.

    Ken Collier was new to the job.

    He believed that Paula Passi was trying to deal with her behaviour.

     

    This first 2011 teacher and the Queensland Teachers Union Regional organiser met Ken Collier.

    This first 2011 teacher did not want to go back to Burpengary State School.

    The QTU wanted Human Resources to consider a transfer.

    So this first 2011 teacher was given a transfer.

    Then, after Gavin Woods had been at the school for only nine weeks, Mrs Passi wanted to put him on MUP.

    Ken Collier knew that Mrs Borserini was giving Gavin Woods curriculum training.

     

     

     

     

     

    Paula Passi told Ken Collier that Gavin Woods was coming back to school after hours to use the internet.

    Steve Cook, Human Resources Manager for the North Coast Region, told Mrs Passi that internet use is a Code of Conduct issue and she could sent it to the Ethical Conduct Department if she thought it was a major issue.

    Paula Passi told Ken Collier about Tony Constance's 'concerns'.

    But Paula Passi did not tell Ken Collier about Gavin Woods' WorkCover complaint about workplace bullying at Whitfield State School.

     

    Ken Collier told the Coroner's Inquest that he did not check the facts of the situation with Mr Woods because principals are responsible for managing deputies - 'it is their accountability'.

    He did not contact Mr Woods himself because it is not his role to 'get involved'.

    It is the principal's role.

    It was not his own role to sit with an individual principal and walk them through the Departmental policies.

    A principal's role is to work with teachers on their DPF.

    Ken Collier's role was to work with principals on their own DPF.

    Ken Collier told the Coroner's Inquest that he had had a long time to reflect on the situation.

    He was not trying to create a 'dependency culture'.

    Principals are accountable for their own practices.

    He could only go on the data and Burpengary State School was "high performing',according to the data.

    Ken Collier did not see Paula Passi's behaviour as bullying.

    Ken Collier was sent a copy of Gavin Woods' PDF on 8 June 2011, the day before Gavin vanished.

    Ken Collier thought Gavin Woods' PDF was appropriate.

    Ken Collier told the Coroner's Inquest that, in his view, Paula Passi's 11 May 2011 letter to Gavin, listing her 'concerns', was fair and reasonable.

    "In the eyes of Mrs Passi these were very important issues."

    He thought that a consistent method of investigation into the missing money would have been better.

    It would have been better if all staff had received a letter about the missing money, not just Gavin.

    Ken Collier told the Coroner's Court that the rules about private use of the internet are a judgement call of the principal.

    But the principal should be consistent.

    And teachers should be aware of these 'private use' rules.

     

    Duncan McKellar, Acting Assistant Director-General, Human Resources, Queensland Department of Education.

    Duncan McKellar told the Coroner's Inquest that if information such as WorkCover complaints was kept on a file - like a Curriculum Vitae - and was easy to access, it might be better for teachers, because if information was incorrect, they could get it corrected.

    Gossip can be untrue.

    But the problem is that this information could be mis-used.

    And it is difficult to get objective information.

    An employee should have the right to choose which information goes on their file.

    Or they should have the Right to Reply.

     

    Duncan McKellar was asked if a principal should send a teacher's PDF to their next principal.

    Mr McKellar said that PDF information was supposed to be confidential.

    It was based on what one supervisor thought.

    If a teacher's relationship with the supervisor was bad, that would be a concern.

    Duncan Mckellar told the court that an investigator had found that Burpengary State School had a culture of retribution if teachers spoke to external agencies.

    Workplace bullying had been the Burpengary State School culture for years.

    And Burpengary State School staff had seen no outcome of their complaints.

    Duncan McKellar told the Coroner's Inquest that many systemic issues were identified in the Helen Couper report on the Burpengary situation.

    But this report is "Non Publication".

    (I emailed Duncan McKellar on September 16 2013 to check that this was a correct record. 

    From: Robina Cosser

    To: [email protected]

    Sent: Monday, September 16, 2013 12:04 PM
    Subject: Private message for Duncan McKellar

    Mr McKellar did not respond.)

    6 August 2013 : Andrea Malfliet's final submission to Coroner Lock.
    Submissions to Coroner Lock – Inquest into the death of Gavin Lyle Woods
      
    It is beyond doubt that Queensland Department of Education staff are still suffering the psychological scars of workplace bullying.  I am concerned about the welfare of staff, particularly those that may have mental health issues that they may become targeted and I sincerely believe that the systems, processes and practices cater to managing employees rather than preventing and dealing with workplace bullying authentically.
    I submit that your honour has heard enough evidence during this inquest to find that workplace bullying was a significant contributing factor to Gavin’s  deterioration of his mental health and ultimate action to end his life.
    1)      Ms Bradford gave evidence that Gavin would have felt offended, humiliated and intimidated by Mr Constance’s micro-management style towards male staff. Workcover Qld confirmed that Gavin did sustain a psychological injury and that the injury was significantly contributed to by his employment.
     
    2)      Ms Gilders gave evidence that during her counselling sessions with Gavin at different times, his symptoms were consistent with a diagnosis of a Major Depressive Disorder and Adjustment Disorder.  Further, that in early September that Gavin remained vulnerable to relapse and his symptoms were still significant, resulting in Central Office approving the payment of further counselling sessions. 
     
    3)      Gavin had an open rehabilitation file from 29 July 2010 – 18 May 2011.  He was placed in a host placement, Cairns West S.S.  {name withheld} described Gavin as a ‘broken man’ when he started there in October, 2010 E 3.3 p2.
    4)      Mr Constance and Ms Passi confirmed to discussing Gavin’s competency as a Deputy Principal in April, 2011.  {name withheld}  from the Ethical Standards Unit stated that he views this type of telephone contact to be unusual and would not endorse it unless it was during the transfer or job application process G16 p58.  There is a great deal of dispute as to the details of the conversation but it was agreed that bullying concerns and the workcover claim were shared.  They also agreed that Gavin lacked skills to perform the Deputy role, lacked the intellectual capacity and a Managing Under Performance process was appropriate management action. 
    There is no evidence that either principal shared any concern for Gavin’s emotional well-being or identified any strengths in Gavin’s capacity to improve his performance. Nor was there evidence of contacting {name withheld}  or {name withheld}  who both had provided a straight “A” reference as to Gavin’s capacity to perform the Deputy Principal role.
    Key performance indicators can be used inappropriately, under the guise of performance management, as a bullying technique…are misreported or misrepresented and are presenting a worker as being somehow not measuring up to that which is required when in fact they are.
    (4.22, p109 ‘We just want it to stop’ Parliamentary Committee on Workplace Bullying October 2012). 
     
    5)      Ms Passi, Mr Cook and Mr Collier provided evidence that Ms Passi advised them of her conversation with Mr Constance together with a list of performance issues in relation to Gavin.  Ms Passi stated that ‘From his short time at Burpengary State School Mr Woods is already displaying unsatisfactory performance of all five of the Deputy Principals Selection Criteria’.  Ms Passi began having concerns regarding Gavin’s performance ‘within a matter of weeks’ and compiled the list after only 10 weeks. The document included comments re: Gavin power tripping, loudness, impetuosity, flirtatious, conning the panel, forgetful, blocking productivity in others, brawling with colleagues, lacking intellectual capacity and having little worthy input.
     
    Ms Ms Mellers and Ms Bradford, deputy principals working closely with Gavin, gave evidence that they did not share these concerns regarding Gavin’s performance, apart from lack of familiarity with the manner in which the new Australian Curriculum had been adapted into Burpengary State School’s established curriculum program and the occasional tardiness to meetings.
     
    TheThere is no evidence that Ms Passi clearly outlined her expectations regarding the ‘Burpengary way’ as part of an induction process e.g. male dress standards for sports day and event proceedings and acceptable level of  private internet use prior to official and formal notification.
    Threats to professional status using belittling remarks, persistent criticism and inaccurate accusation has been identified as specific bullying behaviours by researchers Moayed et.al (2006, p313) who presented a Model of school workplace bullying
     
    6)      Around the time that Ms Passi became aware that Gavin had been placed permanently in her school, two code of conduct issues in relation to Gavin emerged, missing money from a chocolate tin and excessive personal internet use.  Initially, Ms Passi  claimed that the auditor {name withheld}  had advised them of the investigation process they took to address the missing money issue. F1 p1394. Later, that changed to Ms Bunny advised{name withheld}  .  Despite, {name withheld}  having told Ms Bunny that she could have taken the missing money, Ms Bunny concluded that Gavin was the culprit F1 p58.  Over a month later, Gavin was officially notified about the missing money and denied natural justice in its investigation.  Despite several people having access to the chocolate tin, Gavin was the only staff member to be given an official letter concerning the missing money. Ms Passi claims that Gavin was never actually accused of taking the money but in her interview with {name withheld}  when asked about Gavin’s reaction Ms Passi responded that ‘he was, he was defensive but not as defensive as I would have been if someone had accused me of it’ F1 p1397. Any reasonable person would have felt victimised being treated in this manner.
     
    7)      After the chocolate tin matter, Ms Passi requested through Ms Bunny that {name withheld}, the IT support person, conduct an internet usage report E 3.9 p5..  Mr Cook and Mr Collier advised Ms Passi that both matters were minor and should be resolved at the lowest level B4 p3. They advised Ms Passi to refer the internet issue to the Department of Education Ethical Standards Unit as a notification of a minor breach for their determination.  Ms Passi addressed the internet use with Gavin formally in the same official letter as the chocolate tin issue. Ms Passi advised Gavin that the matter would be forwarded to the ESU and limited Gavin's internet access prior to ESU determination.  Gavin responded that he would be more mindful of his internet use in future.  Gavin ceased using the internet at school as much as possible.  Ms Passi forwarded the matter to the ESU after Gavin went missing.  {name withheld}  from the ESU assessment explained that it was not approved as it did not meet the thresholds for Code of Conduct Minor Incident Referral. 
    It was not considered over use or inappropriate use of internet G 16 p34.
    The times Gavin was on the internet were insignificant in the context of the work day. 
    No other staff member received an official letter or referral to the ESU, nor had any staff member had their internet limit restricted in the past.  {name withheld}  wondered why Ms Passi hadn’t forwarded any of the other high internet users on the list to the ESU.  There is no evidence that anyone mentioned to the entire staff or Gavin directly to limit private internet use prior to formal notification. When Ms Passi advised Mr Collier  re: the internet issue, he gained the view that Ms Passi was just focussing on Gavin with regard to the excessive internet use G27 p24 The pattern of blowing minor matters out of all proportion to generate a perception of a serious performance issue was identified by {name withheld}  F1 p235. 
    Mr Woodrow gave evidence that Gavin asked for an apology and conveyed in his response letter a strong recommendation to refer the matter to Qld police for investigation and that he absolutely required a written statement exonerating him regarding this false allegation. Any reasonable person would have felt victimised being treated in this manner.
     
    8)      By 3 June 2011, Gavin had been notified that he was permanently allocated to Burpengary State School.  Mr Woodrow gave evidence that on 3 June 2011 Ms Passi told Gavin ‘off the record’ that it would be likely that he would be placed on a Managing Under Performance process at the commencement of Term 3 and that he needed to go home and think about whether to keep the role G32 p32.  Further Ms Passi advised Gavin that in her opinion he lacked the skills to perform the role – that it was too hard for him.  Mr Woodrow gave evidence that emotionally, Gavin appeared to ‘hit the wall’ which he reported to Ms Passi.  Gavin told Mr Woodrow that he didn’t think he could go through another session like he’d been through up north G32 p28.  Mr Woodrow reflected on the meeting and considered that receiving all that information at one time would be intimidating and could have been humiliating. Mr Cook concluded that Ms Passi has chosen strategies that could now be found to be management actions taken in an unreasonable way F5 p8.
    Irrespective of form, mode, or context, bullying is characterised by an abuse of power, where vulnerable targets are ‘pushed into positions from which they have no avenue of escape’ (McGrath, submission 87, p3 ‘We just want it to stop’)
     
    9)      Two days prior to Gavin’s disappearance, he met with Mr Cook and Mr Evans and he shared with them the statements Ms Passi had made to him G21.3 p116 and options from here. 
     
    Statements such as -
    “Not a fit for this school, and not wanted at this school”
    “You have risen above your level”
    "North Qld should have placed you on a MUP and I was angry about having to manage you”
    “You have no curriculum experience as you had been in too many schools for short periods. You need to be in the classroom for at least 10 years before being a HOC or Deputy – you aren’t even a Senior Teacher”
    “Who told you that you could teach? No one watched you to tell you.  There is nowhere to hide these days”
    “I can’t trust you to read report cards.  These are our public face and I cannot trust that you are able to do this.  You will do the fetching and carrying for Lynne while she reads them”
    While no witnesses were present to corroborate these statements, Gavin recorded them as being said and the emotional impact of being humiliated and threatened like this would have been exacerbated due to his mental health condition and prior negative experience in FNQ.

     
    I submit that your honour find that the inquest revealed Departmental systemic issues that significantly contributed to the deterioration of  Gavin’s  mental health and ultimate action to end his life.
     
    1)      Mr Cook concluded in his statement that Burpengary State School was ‘not the right school for someone who maybe a bit fragile’ B4 p5.
     
    Ms Owens gave evidence that she would not have placed an emotionally vulnerable staff member in Burpengary State School even if they had strong curriculum skills.  There is some dispute regarding what information regarding Gavin’s mental health was provided or accessible when the relocation of Gavin to North Coast region was negotiated. 
    Mr Rodgers was aware of Gavin’s workcover claim, bullying allegations and return to work plan.  Mr Rodgers thought that he had mentioned performance issues and return to work to Ms Owens G29 19-20.  Mrs Owens did not recall this information being conveyed to her.  At the very least, Ms Owens would have access to Gavin’s Movements / Employment History Report F5 p20 which would show that Gavin took sick leave from 27 July 2010 to 3 October 2010 without a further entry in term 4.  Ms Owens confirms that had she asked Mr Rodgers a general question about sick leave or performance issues he would have provided her with the information.  Mr Rodgers gave evidence that staff do have electronic TRIM files in which the Ethical Standards referral as a result of the work cover claim would have been accessible to someone at North Coast Regional Office with suitable access clearance. 
    A recommendation that human resources staff do share general information regarding health and well-being information to enable them to fulfill their duty of care obligations. 
    This is particularly important within the Department of Education as staff have little to no control over where they are assigned.  Often staff are forced transferred so there is a greater responsibility for the Department to ensure that staff are not placed inappropriately.
     
    2)      Gavin had an open rehabilitation file from 29 July 2010 – 18 May 2011.  Mr Rodgers did not believe that Gavin had performed a true deputy role because he was an additional number at Cairns West State School.  Nevertheless the rehabilitation file was not transferred to North Coast region. 
    A recommendation that rehabilitation officers consult with staff on return to work plans,
     principal and human resource officer to determine ongoing support / monitoring needs
    recommended at the new center prior to relocation.  The information should inform the new region as to best fit location and level of support to ensure a successful transition. 
    Moving alone involves a high level of stress so it is best to err on the side of the caution.
     
    3)      Mr Cook and Mr Collier became aware of the Gavin’s work cover claim and workplace bullying concerns on the 14 April 2011.  Mr Cook discussed Gavin with {name withheld} who confirmed the jury was out whether it was a management issue or a performance issue E 4.2 p17.  The premise of a work cover claim is that there was some type of work related health issue.  No contact was made with Mr Rodgers for more details nor was there any evidence that there was any concern for Gavin’s welfare.  Given their knowledge of  the “intimidatory work environment” at Burpengary State School as concluded by {name withheld}, Ms Passi’s disciplinary training plan and her views regarding Gavin’s performance, I find this particularly distressing. 
    A rA recommendation that requires regional office staff to consult with an organisational psychologist regarding case management  to ensure the well-being of staff in workplaces identified as exhibiting a culture of workplace bullying would enable regional office staff without mental health training to implement effective proactive and reactive strategies in complex school communities.
     
    It is It is unacceptable to ignore ESU investigation recommendations regarding staff well-being and to simply transfer complainants out of schools without also addressing the underlying source, to protect the remaining staff and those that come into the school in the future.
     
    4)       The majority of  workcover claims based on workplace bullying are not successful due to the determination of  reasonable management action.  This determination was made in Gavin’s circumstances without interviewing witnesses.  The onus was on Gavin to obtain statements from witnesses at the commencement of the claim to have his sick leave returned to him. 
    A rA recommendation that all workcover and grievance bullying complaints made orally or provided in writing should be investigated by trained investigators.  The conclusions should be forwarded to the Ethical Standards Unit for notification purposes and monitoring.  This would prevent years of complaints and  psychological suffering through regional office inaction.
     
    5)      The grievance process is inherently flawed to address workplace bullying when there is a power imbalance and upon conclusion of this flawed process a supervisory relationship continues.  The fear of reprisals, impact on future career opportunities, lack of alternative employment locations available and concern for work colleagues collude to maintain the secrecy of bullying  
    I I  I submit that your honour recommends a Royal Commission be convened to address workplace bullying within the Dept of Education Training and Employment. 
    T    This would enable staff to come forward under the protection of the commission without risk of reprisals or repercussions.
     
    TheThe Royal Commission could provide clear guidelines for school communities on:
    ·         how to prevent workplace bullying
    ·         how to identify and assess the risk of  workplace bullying.
    ·         how to control the risk of workplace bullying
    ·         how to consistently implement fair and flexible complaints procedures
    ·         how to encourage reporting
    ·         how to respond to workplace bullying quickly and impartially
    ·         how to resolve bullying using a continuum of strategies from informal to formal
    ·         how to communicate investigation outcomes
    ·         how to provide support to targets
    ·         how to implement specific control measures
    ·         how to monitor and review control measures.
    I submit that your honour supports the establishment of a single national advisory service that would provide consistent information to empower targets and support those accused.
     
    Workplace bullying can disturb both the individual and social conceptions of self and value…It can have a profound effect on all aspects of a person’s health as well as their work and family life, undermining self-esteem, productivity and morale.  For some it can result in a permanent departure from the labour market and in extreme cases, suicide.(1.3, p2 ‘We just want it to stop’)
     
    Thank you your honour for the opportunity to make submissions verbally in open court so that I might find peace at the end of the day, to having done my up most to advocate on behalf of Gavin, other staff still suffering the psychological scars of workplace bullying and those currently targeted within the Department of Education.
                                                               Andrea Malfliet
     
    References:
    Moayed, F, A., Daraisch, N., Shell, R., & Salem, S, (2006). Workplace bullying: A systematic review of risk factors and outcomes. Theoretical Issues in Ergonomics Science, 7(3), 311-327. Taylor and Francis Ltd., <http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals>
    Riley, D., Duncan D & Edwards J, (2012). Bullying of Staff in Schools, ACER Press, Vic. Australia
    Workplace Bullying “WE JUST WANT IT TO STOP” House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment, October 2012- Canberra
    Members of the Brisbane Coroners Court gallery applaud Andrea Malfliet.
    Andrea Malfliet, the partner of former Burpengary State School deputy principal Gavin Woods, was quietly applauded by members of the Brisbane Coroners Court gallery, including several members of this website, when she finished her submission to Brisbane Coroner John Lock.
     
    Ms Malfliet made a number of recommendations to Coroner Lock, including he recommend a Royal Commission be convened to address workplace bullying within the Department of Education, Training and Employment (DETE).

    "I submit that your Honour has heard enough evidence during this inquest to find that workplace bullying was a significant contributing factor to Gavin's deterioration of his mental health and ultimate action to end his life," Ms Malfliet said.

    Mr Lock told the court that at this stage there had been no specific findings made on the facts, including in regards to bullying.

    The inquest has been adjourned until Mr Lock delivers his findings.

    Coroners inquest into death of Burpengary State School deputy principal Gavin Woods draws to a close. Findings due.  Tanya Chilcott, Quest Newspapers, 16 August 2013

    Robina Cosser says :

    I believe that several systemic issues were raised during the inquest that would be obvious to a teacher but that might be less obvious to the coroner or any other person who has not worked in a Queensland school.

    I will try to identify these systemic issues in the order that they affected Gavin Woods -

    I do not think it is true to portray Gavin Woods as a "fragile" man. Many Australian teachers report that they are under stress at work.

    Many Australian teachers report that they are being bullied at work.

     

    In 2007 Dan Riley of UNE and Deidre Duncan of ACU reported that 99.6 per cent of Australian teachers had been bullied at work by parents, principals or other teachers.

    http://www.badapplebullies.com/research.htm 

     

    In 2013 Philip Riley of Monash University found that Australian school principals were Australia's most stressed and bullied professionals.

    Nearly 40 per cent of Australian school principals reported feeling stressed or bullied at work.

    http://www.badapplebullies.com/research.htm 

     

    Many Australians kill themselves.

    In 2011, the year that Gavin Woods died, 1726 other Australians killed themselves.

    In 2011, almost 30 per cent of all deaths for males aged 20-24 in Australia was suicide.

    A generation of men at risk need rescuing, Madonna King, P 48, The Courier-Mail, 12 october 2013.

     

    A beyondblue survey of 14,000 doctors has found that one in four Australian doctors has depression or a minor psychiatric disorder.

    One in five Australian doctors has contemplated suicide.

    Doctors sick of their jobs, Sue Dunlevy, P 8, The Courier Mail, 8 October 2013

     

    70 per cent of Australians report that they are either ambivalent about or completely disengaged from their jobs.

    Clock on, disengage the brain, P.11, The Courier-Mail, 10 October 2013

     

    The powers-that-be in Australia deal with these and many other problems with fear and silence.

    Queensland teachers are constantly warned not to speak to reporters about the problems in Queensland schools.

    TV producers and newspaper reporters tell me that they do not publish stories about suicide because they are afraid of triggering 'copycat' suicides.

    Even 'successful role model' Australians seem to be having suicidal thoughts and taking anti-depressant medication.

    Leisel Jones says that her Olympic gold medal "totally cost me my mental health and my wellbeing".

    By 2010 she had fallen into depression and was having suicidal thoughts.

    Five-time Olympic champion Ian Thorpe revealed that he had suicidal thoughts in the lead up to the Athens Olympics.

    Triple Olmpic gold medalist Petra Thomas once overdosed on paracetamol.

    Geoff Huegill took anti-depressants on and off for six years following his first retirement in 2004.

    Anthony Field, the Blue Wiggle, reports that he has been dogged by depression so black that it has "come close to destroying him".

    "When the show ended I'd come off stage and just sit in my room. I was lonely and full of self-loathing."

    Eight years ago Field was prescribed anti-depressants.

    But he does not want to retire. "I don't think about it, not for a second. I love it too much. ... I can't see me ever leaving."

     

    Leisel: Lust for gold made me psychotic, Jessica Halloran, P 4, The Sunday Mail, 22 September 2013.

    1991 Anthony Field, Birth of the Wiggles, Anne Barrowclough, P 23-25, The Weekend Australian Magazine, 21-22 September 2013

     

    You have to wonder why so many Australians are so unhappy.

    You have to wonder if the medication they are taking a) is working and b) is having any side-effects.

    Gavin was stressed and medicated at work - and the school principals who were bullying him may also have been stressed and medicated.

    Gavin's sleep specialist told the Coroner's Inquest that the teaching profession is flagged by doctors because teachers often suffer from anxiety.

    And recent research suggests that nearly half of Australian school principals take prescription medication for a diagnosed condition.

    So there is a real possibility that Gavin, who was on medication for stress, was dealing with a principal, or more than one principal, who was also on medication for stress.

    I note that Paula Passi, in particular, found her situation "desolate".

    Which suggests that there is a need for the Queensland Department of Education to take steps to support the safety and well-being of school principals and teachers.

     

    Gavin Woods lacked confidence - and was vulnerable to the jeers and 'put downs' of his school principals - because he had not passed Year 10 Maths and English.

    All student teachers in Australia should be required to reach a minimum academic standard before they enter an education course at any Australian University.

    If Gavin Woods had passed grade 10 Maths and English before he entered university he would have been more confident, more capable and less vulnerable to workplace jeering and abuse.

    And if all Australian teachers had to achieve a common basic academic level before they entered university, principals would not find themselves dealing with the problem of a really nice-natured teacher who cannot cope with the academic requirements of the job.

    And if all principals had to achieve a common basic academic level, teachers would not find themselves dealing with the problem of a really charming principal who has poor literacy skills and an inability to comprehend departmental policies.

    The Department of Education transfer system did not work well for Gavin Woods.

    A Queensland school principal may function very well indeed in one school - but then they may be given a transfer to another school where they may seem to function less well.

    This seems to be a particular problem when a small school principal - like Gavin Woods - becomes a deputy principal at a larger school.

    Nowadays deputy principals in large schools need curriculum skills that they may not have needed before the advent of Australia-wide testing.

    The deputy principal may not have the very specific skills needed to fill that role.

    In this situation, the deputy principal and the principal are locked into a dysfunctional working relationship for three years - because Queensland teachers have to stay in their school for three years.

    The principal's only way of getting rid of the deputy is to put the deputy on Diminished Workplace Performance (now called MUP).

    The deputy is then trapped (because teachers on DWP are not allowed to change schools) and their only escape is to become physically or mentally ill and to retire on the grounds of ill health, or to suicide.

    Even though the deputy principal may, in fact, be a good deputy who could function well in another school.

    The Department of Education 'Merit Selection Process' is not working.

    Burpengary principal Paula Passi told the court she questioned the validity of the Education Queensland "Merit Selection Process".

    And I would question the process myself, based on my own experience in Queensland schools.

    In Queensland I worked with school principals who had literacy problems and with principals who did not seem to be able to comprehend departmental policies or willing to apply those policies to their own behaviour.

    I would suggest that Queensland principals' poor literacy and thinking skills are the basis of many problems in Queensland schools.

     

    Queensland school teachers should be required to sit an exam before they are allowed to apply for 'acting' positions or for promotion.

    The exam should require teachers and principals to demonstrate their willingness and their capacity to read and to comprehend departmental policies and to apply these policies to their own behaviour.

     

    If certain curriculum skills are required for a deputy principal position, these skills should be tested before a deputy principal is appointed.

     

    If Gavin Woods had passed such an exam he would have been more confident, more capable and less vulnerable to workplace jeering and abuse.

     

    If Mr Constance and Mrs Passi had taken these exams we would be confident that they were willing and able to read , comprehend and apply the official departmental policies.

    And we could hold them responsible for complying with the official policies.

     

    The Managing Unsatisfactory Performance (MUP) / Diminished Workplace Performance Process is too subjective. It is wide open to abuse by school principals.

    The Department of Education DWP process is now called the MUP process.

    Both terms - MUP and DWP - were used interchangeably during the Coroner's Inquest.

     

    Steve Cook, QTU Organiser, advised the Coroner's Inquest that the staff expectations that trigger the DWP process are SOLEY up to the principal, not the department.

     

    In August 2001 I made a Public Interest Disclosure to the Director-General of Education that the DWP process was being abused to drive Queensland teachers into ill health and out of work.

    I repeated that disclosure in person to Anna Bligh, the Minister of Education, and Jim Varghese, the Director-General in June 2002.

    I have repeated that disclosure many times in the years since.

    In 2011 the DWP / MUP process seems to have been used to drive Gavin Woods out of two schools, into ill health and finally, to suicide.

    (My understanding is that) a Queensland teacher is not allowed to make a complaint about a principal's behaviour once the MUP process has begun.

     

    The evidence to the Coroner's Inquest suggested that Queensland school principals are -

    a) pro-actively using the MUP process to protect themselves after they have done something wrong or when they are worried that they might be accused of having done something wrong.

    b) using the threat of the MUP process to get rid of a teacher, without having the actual bother of going through the MUP process - the mass of paperwork, the collecting of evidence, etc. 

    So Queensland school principals seem to tell teachers that they are thinking of putting them on the MUP 'next term', and then wait a few weeks to see if the teacher goes on sick leave, asks for a transfer, resigns or suicides during the school holidays. 

     

    And both principals were able to make allegations concerning Gavin Woods that seemed to be subjective, contradictory and incorrect.

    But these allegations seem to have been used as 'evidence' to support putting Gavin on DWP / MUP.

    For example -

    a) The Whitfield principal judged Gavin to be too friendly with the children and demanded that he spent less time with them.

    The Burpengary principal thought Gavin was "power-tripping" when he was with children and demanded that he spent more time with them.

    b) The allegations concerning the missing chocolate money.

    c) The allegations concerning Gavin's internet usage.

    The Cairns Regional Office seems to have failed Gavin Woods and the teachers at Whitfield State School.

    If Gavin Woods was telling the truth on 26 June 2010, when he told his GP that several other teachers at Whitfield State School were on sick leave or leave without pay because they believed that they were being bullied at work, shouldn't the Cairns Regional Office have been aware of this situation?

    Shouldn't the Cairns Regional Office staff have known that several teachers were on sick leave and that there might be a problem at the school?

     

    WorkCover failed Gavin Woods and the other teachers at Whitfield State School - the situation at the school should have been investigated.

    If WorkCover had functioned properly at Whitfield State School, Gavin Woods might be alive today.

    It seems to be common knowledge that there is a significant problem with WorkCover investigations.

    Gavin Woods told his doctor that several Whitfield State School teachers were on sick leave or on leave without pay because they believed that they were being bullied at work.

    Gavin expected WorkCover to investigate what was going on at Whitfield State School.

    But WorkCover did not investigate what was going on at Whitfield State School.

    And they rejected Gavin Woods' WorkCover claim.

    Terry Evans, the QTU organiser, told the Coroner's Inquest that WorkCover used to conduct interviews in Workplace Bullying cases, but in the past six years WorkCover have stopped doing interviews - they require claimants to provide witness statements.

    But bullied Queensland teachers worry that if they provide witness statements to support a bullied teacher, they may also be attacked and driven out of work.

    This WorkCover policy of requiring bullied Queensland teachers to provide witness statements saves WorkCover the cost of investigations and compensation, but it means that workplace bullying is very difficult to prove.

    This new WorkCover 'non-investigation' policy puts Queensland teachers at risk of workplace abuse.

    Terry Evans told the court that many QTU members' WorkCover claims concerning workplace bullying are rejected because workplace bullying is considered by WorkCover to be "reasonable management action".

    Bruce Elliot told the court that it was common knowledge that there were difficulties with the Complaints Management Process and that it was very difficult to complain about your supervisor.

    The process seem to be used a) to protect principals who are worried that a complaint may be made about them and b) to pay teachers back for making a complaint about a principal.

    Gavin's GP did not consider him to be strong enough to cope with WorkCover.

    Gavin's GP told the Coroner's Court that you need energy and perseverance to make a WorkCover claim and sick people do not have energy and perseverance.

    Helen Couper also noted in her report on the problems at Burpengary State School that 90 per cent of WorkCover claims for workplace bullying are not accepted because the behaviour is considered by WorkCover to be "reasonable management action".

     

     

    You might think that WorkCover have adopted convenient (and economical) new policies that prevent it from finding out the truth about workplace bullying in Queensland schools.

     

     

    Q-Comp also failed Gavin Woods and the other teachers at Whitfield State School.

    Q-Comp knocked back Gavin Woods' appeal against the WorkCover decision.

    If Gavin Woods was telling the truth to his GP on 26 June 2010, when he claimed that several other teachers were on leave without pay or on sick leave at Whitfield State School, Q-Comp should have dealt with this situation.

    But (my understanding is) that Q-Comp also refused to investigate the situation at Whitfield State School because Q-Comp does not "look at new evidence".

     

     

    You might think that Q-Comp has adopted convenient policies that prevent it from finding out the facts about workplace bullying in Queensland schools.

    The Education Queensland Department of Ethical Standards also seems to have failed Gavin Woods and the other teachers at Whitfield State School. 
    The Education Queensland Ethical standards Department advised 'there was not enough information provided to raise suspicion of misconduct regarding the principal'.
     
    The department found that the matter was suitable for managerial and management actions.
    But if Gavin Woods was telling the truth on 26 June 2010, when he told his GP that several other Whitfield State School teachers were on sick leave and leave without pay because they felt that they were being bullied at work, the Department of Ethical Standards could have found out the truth about this situation with one phone call to the school or the Cairns District Office.
    I met with John Ryan, the Queensland Department of Education Director of Human Resources / Director of Ethical standards several times during 2004 - 2005.
     
    John Ryan told me that the Department of Ethical Standards knew if there was a workplace bullying problem at a school - and that teachers taking sick leave from a school was one of the signals that alerted the department to the possibility that something was wrong.
    So, if Gavin Woods was telling his GP the truth, the Department of Ethical Conduct failed Gavin Woods and the Whitfield State School teachers.
     
     
    Coroner hears that deputy principal post not the best move for teacher who is believed to have committed suicide, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 26 January 2013 
    WorkCover, the Department of Education, the Department of Ethical Standards,  the Regional Office and the QTU should also have sorted out the problems at Burpengary State School before Gavin Woods arrived at the school.

    The problems at Burpengary State School were well known to the responsible authorities - the Department of Education, the QTU and, I would presume, WorkCover and the Department of Ethical Standards - before Gavin Woods arrived at the school.

    A number of previous complaints had been made by teachers at Burpengary State School.

    As a result of these complaints, a disciplinary sanction had been placed on the principal.

    But this sanction was suspended subject to the satisfactory implementation of a 12-month training plan.

     

    This training plan was reduced to six months.

    And was not recorded.

    And seems to have failed.

     

    All of which suggests that public money is being wasted on Department of Education investigations and 'training plans' that do not lead to change.

    The Queensland Department of Education seems to have abandoned Gavin Woods to a problem workplace.

    Given that Burpengary State School had a recent history of substantiated workplace problems, didn't the Department of Education have a Duty of Care to Gavin Woods?

    Shouldn't Gavin Woods have been given some information about the workplace problems and some advice on how to deal with the situation?

    Shouldn't his situation at the school have been closely monitored?

    Shouldn't somebody have been regularly visiting the school and asking Gavin Woods how he was going?

    '99.9 per cent of Queensland school principals phone each other up to gossip about teachers on transfer' - and the principals don't tell each other the truth.

    The Queensland Department of Education District Office staff who organise transfers are not officially supposed to know about mental health issues, WorkCover claims, etc. when organising transfers, because of privacy concerns.

     

    But Queensland school principals can ring each other and gossip about teachers and deputy principals who are on transfer.

    Ken Collier, Assistant Regional Director, North Coast Region, told the Coroner's Inquest that 99.9 per cent of Queensland school principals would phone a teacher's previous principal to gossip about the teacher.

    This principal's gossip process does not seem to raise privacy concerns.

     

    And a principal may not realise that the principal they are gossiping with has a long history of substantiated workplace problems.

    Or that several teachers at the principal's school are on unpaid leave and sick leave because they believe that the principal is bullying them.

     

    This school principals' gossip puts Queensland teachers at risk of workplace abuse.

    The 'expert psychiatrist' was not given access to all of the documents, so her 'expert advice' to the Coroner's inquest seemed to be quite strange.

    The expert psychiatrist seemed to be unaware - or to have simply disregarded - Gavin's claim that several other Whitfield State School teachers had been on sick leave or unpaid leave because they believed that they were being being bullied by the Whitifeld State School principal.

    I understood the expert psychiatrist to tell the Coroner's inquest that she had based her conclusion that Gavin Woods was not bullied at Burpengary on statements made by Paula Passi.

     

    The expert psychiatrist seemed to be unaware of the long history of complaints that Burpengary State School teachers had made concerning Paula Passi.

    Or that the QTU organiser regarded Burpengary State School as a 'toxic workplace'.

    The psychiatrist seemed to be unaware of the training program that Paula Passi had been required to complete.

    The expert psychiatrist seems to have been directed to / chosen to focus on the 'madness in Gavin' rather than the madness in Gavin's workplace.

    (Based on my own experience, the Department of Education often seem to "set up' investigations to fail by providing investigating officers with a limited selection of the documents - a selection that leads the investigator to a certain (incorrect) conclusion.)

     

     

    The Coroner's Inquest was limited to exclude systemic problems.

    Based on my own experience, the Department of Education seem to have a practice of 'setting up' the Terms of Reference of investigations to exclude the real problem.

    So nothing changes.

    And this inquest, seems to have been 'set up' to limit the Coroner to a finding that Gavin was was fragile and that Mrs Passi was a principal with problems.

    And this may well be part of the truth.

    But it is not the whole truth.

    The bigger truth is that both Gavin and Mrs Passi were people with a lot to offer schools - but they were let down by their working environment.

      

    22 August 2013 : The University of the Sunshine Coast finding seems to raise some questions about the Burpengary situation.
    The Court of Appeal has unanimously found the University of the Sunshine Coast negligent in not fully investigating complaints about the aggressive behaviour of one of its employees.
     
    Security guard Gjenie Wolters has received $364,000 compensation after her boss, USC capital programs and operations director Mark Bradley, yelled at her and bullied her during a blackout.

    Court documents show that, during a morning power blackout in 2008, Ms Wolters was in a university office talking to a colleague.

    Mr Bradley rushed up to her, waving his hands, and shouted, "Get the bloody hell out of there'', wrongly accusing Ms Wolters of abandoning her outside duties.

     

     

    Mr Bradley later lodged a report attacking Ms Wolters' work performance.

     

     

    You may see a pattern here - supervisors using the Work Performance process to protect themselves after they have done something wrong.

     

     

    Ms Wolters lodged a complaint that was not investigated, a judge found.

    Months earlier another female employee had left the university after complaining of similar bullying by Mr Bradley, which also was never properly investigated.

     

    Robina Cosser says : This finding suggests to me that the Department of Education could also be found negligent in failing to fully investigate my own repeated disclosures (from 2001 to the present day) that the DWP / MUP and Grievance processes were being abused to drive Queensland teachers into ill health and out of work.

     

    Has my Public Interest Disclosure ever been properly investigated?

    If my disclosure had been properly investigated, would Gavin - in a school in the same district - have been driven to suicide in 2011?

     

     

    Appeal Court Justice Robert Gotterson said the second incident may not have happened if the university had told Mr Bradley to check facts first and treat staff calmly and rationally.

     

     

    Shine partner Stuart MacLeod said Ms Wolters' suffering might have been prevented if the university had addressed the previous complaints about Mr Bradley's behaviour.

     

     

    Which suggests to me that Gavin Woods's suffering and eventual suicide might have been prevented if the Department of Education had properly investigated my own Public Interest Disclosure.

     

    USC forced to pay $364,000 to Gjenie Wolters after court upholds bullying claim, Kay Dibben, The Courier Mail, 22 August 2013 

    5 October 2013 : the Queensland Department of Education, Training and Employment advertise for a new Regional Director in Far North Queensland (Cairns).

    The Department of Education advertise for a 'leading professional to drive continuous improvement of service delivery outcomes within the Far North Queensland Region'.

    Let us hope that this includes dealing with workplace bullying.

    Wednesday 11 December 2013 : the coroner will release his findings.

    The coroner will release his findings at 10.00am in Court 5, Brisbane Magistrates Court, 363 George Street.

    The Coroner's findings.

    The Coroner's findings (after they have been handed down), will be made publicly available on the website of the Office of the State Coroner which can be found at http://www.courts.qld.gov.au/courts/coroners-court/findings

     

    Why did Gavin Woods, deputy principal at Burpengary State School, suicide?

    If any person identified on this page would prefer to have their name deleted, or if you feel that your side of the story has not been properly represented, please do not hesitate to contact me at :  [email protected]

    Maybe you want your story to be told, maybe you don't.

    Whatever is best for you.

    Gavin Woods sounds like such a very decent man.

    We must not allow his death to be wrapped in yet another Queensland Department of Education fog.

    Robina Cosser

     

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