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Education millions go in payouts

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A clean out of senior Education Department executives in the wake of last year’s Debelle Report has contributed to a $6 million jump in termination payments.

The latest Auditor-General’s report shows termination payout net costs for the department jumped from $5.4 million in 2012-13 to $11.8 million in 2013-14.

One unidentified public servant received a $1.13 million golden handshake, the report indicates.

‘The employee in question had accrued substantial leave entitlements which were included in the separation payment,” Phil O’Loughlin, the education department’s Acting Deputy Chief Executive of Resources, told InDaily.

“TVSPs have been offered as part of budget saving strategies and the department follows appropriate procedures in relation to employee separation.”

The Debelle inquiry was commissioned in October 2012 after it was revealed in parliament that parents were not told for two years about the 2010 rape of a child at a western suburbs primary school by an after-school-hours care worker.

It delivered its finding in June 2013 and highlighted the failings of government authorities and made dozens of recommendations for change.

In November 2013  Education Department boss Tony Harrison confirmed that of the 11 Education Department bureaucrats who had formal disciplinary processes begun due to the findings from the Debelle Inquiry, at least two had lost their jobs and two others had findings of serious misconduct recorded against them.

Senior department staff members Jan Andrews and Gino DeGennaro both left the department in September 2013. DeGennaro resigned and Andrews did not have her contract renewed.

Ms Andrews’ position was clarified in May this year when Harrison issued a public apology for implications that the decision to not renew her contract was a disciplinary sanction.

In November last year, DeGennaro told an Upper House inquiry that he had been “shocked” by Harrison’s loss of confidence in him.

Of the two employees who had been found guilty of serious misconduct one, a contracted teacher, was prevented from teaching in the future, and the other was given a “final warning”.

Six of the other 11 had face to face counselling sessions with Harrison.

The final bureaucrat had no finding recorded against them.

Harrison said at the time he  had inherited a large and “clunky” department, and he immediately started a series of processes and reorganisations to drive cultural change.

He said he had many sleepless nights as he contemplated ending the careers of long-serving bureaucrats  – whom he described in particularly glowing terms.

“I was troubled over many weeks and months as to the appropriateness of that decision based on the length of service that both of these people had in particular provided,” Harrison told an Upper House committee examining “issues arising from the Debelle report”.

“But it was about organisational integrity.”

 

 

 

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