Capel council contentious bullying review call

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Ailish DelaneyBunbury Herald
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Capel Shire president Michael Southwell.
Camera IconCapel Shire president Michael Southwell. Credit: Shannon Verhagen

The Capel Shire Council has agreed to apply for a review into the two improvement notices issued by the State’s workplace safety agency earlier this year.

WorkSafe issued two notices to the council on February 25 in regards to allegations of bullying.

Shire president Michael Southwell requested that the council apply for a review of the notices to help councillors “understand what’s going on and clarify a way forward”.

Cr Southwell said he knew what the notices said but did not know who they were about or why they had been issued, and he wanted answers.

The WorkSafe notices proved a contentious issue in the council, with Crs Doug Kitchen and Sebastian Schiano passionately debating against the need for a review and pleading for the other councillors to reconsider.

Cr Schiano stated a problem had clearly been identified within the organisation, and asking for a review into the decision was the wrong way forward.

WorkSafe, as the only expert, has come to the conclusion there is an issue.

Sebastian Schiano

“I feel like we are not proactively approaching the issue for the staff.

“We’re talking about the wellbeing of staff, and it’s implied they don’t feel safe in this environment — they are legitimate concerns.

“Sometimes I don’t feel safe in this environment.”

Cr Kitchen agreed and said he did not see how a review would serve a purpose.

We all need to improve. Sometimes I don’t want to be here anymore because I don’t enjoy it.

Doug Kitchen

“We can’t talk to staff, but I’m prepared to do that so the bullying stops.

“Let’s get back to the proud organisation it was.”

Cr David Clews, on the other hand, welcomed the review and said he would love to see more proactive behaviour from within the council.

“Over the last month we’ve worked through some pretty big issues and I’ve been proud to be a part of the council,” Cr Clews said.

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