Second Doyle probe inconclusive
No final conclusions have been reached in the investigation into sexual harassment allegations against former Melbourne lord mayor Robert Doyle.
Investigators found no reason to doubt one woman’s claims that she was sexually harassed by Mr Doyle at a Melbourne Health black tie event in 2016.
Charles Scerri QC said that because Mr Doyle has been sick and unable to respond to the allegations, so he has been unable to make conclusive findings.
“In my report I determined that in the absence of any response from Mr Doyle, I was not able to reach — and did not reach — any final conclusions about the allegations regarding his conduct,” he said.
Mr Doyle resigned in February after two former colleagues alleged he had indecently assaulted and sexually harassed them.
Mr Scerri found Melbourne Health’s response to the complaint to be appropriate, and that its complaint process was “sound”.
But the QC did find two areas in which Melbourne Health could improve.
He said some staff were unaware of Melbourne Health's complaint-handling process and how to access it.
“I would observe that it is an essential feature of a complaints-handling process that staff members are made aware, on a regular basis, of the existence of harassment policies and procedures and how to register a complaint,” he said.
Mr Scerri also said the that “unprecedented” nature of the complaint against the highest-ranked person at the organisation meant that there was some uncertainty about how it should be handled.
Mr Scerri said there was also uncertainty about how the complaint should be handled as complaints against a chair were "unprecedented".
“There was obvious awkwardness in the complaint being investigated by members of management, since management is appointed by the board, and reports to the board,” he said.
He proposed an alternative complaints-handling process independent of management be created for when the complaint concerns a member of the board.
Mr Scerri also found some concerns about confidentiality in the complaints process.
Health Minister Jill Hennessy has announced a $400,000 trial of new independent facilitators in Victorian hospitals to support staff when they make complaints.
“These independent facilitators will give staff confidence to stand up and speak up against unacceptable behaviours without fear of reprisal,” Ms Hennessy said in a statement.