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Victim advocacy group calls police on bullied employee

Local

The state’s controversy-mired Victim Support Service called in the police to try to retrieve an office laptop from a staff member who was on leave after their workplace bullying claim was upheld, InDaily can reveal.

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The organisation recently parted ways with its CEO Julian Roffe, after InDaily asked VSS whether two of its managers were on leave with pending claims alleging “bullying by the chief executive”, as raised by the Opposition in parliament.

The service confirmed that one Return to Work claim by an employee had been “accepted”, with a second claim rejected.

It’s understood the employee whose claim was accepted remains in limbo, with the organisation demanding the return of their work phone and laptop.

In response to inquiries from InDaily, VSS today confirmed it sought assistance from police to retrieve the laptop, with officers contacting a third party – who is acting as an intermediary and providing counseling and support to the staff member.

InDaily has sighted correspondence from the third party addressed to acting VSS CEO Jodie Sloan, complaining that they had “today received a call at my workplace from the Adelaide Police Station”.

“This follows an apparent request [by VSS] to lodge a charge of ‘theft’ against [the staff member] with regards the laptop,” the email said.

“Whilst on balance I perhaps should have expected such behaviour from an organisation with such exemplary HR and governance practices as VSS, please know that I regard the direction of the police to contact me at my workplace as mischievous, inappropriate and, to some extent at least, wonderfully disturbingly ironic conduct in all of the circumstances.”

VSS chairwoman Jayne Stinson – a Labor state election candidate – today directed all inquiries to Sloan.

InDaily asked Sloan whether VSS considers it appropriate to involve SAPOL in workplace disputes, where a claim of bullying has been upheld.

She responded: “VSS has not made a police report.”

“VSS has requested the return of VSS-owned technology from a staff member, who is not currently carrying out work for VSS.

“That staff member has now agreed to return VSS’s equipment.

“Under legislation VSS cannot disclose information to third parties about employee claims.”

After a subsequent inquiry, Sloan clarified that the staff member had “repeatedly been asked to return VSS-owned equipment”.

“That equipment is required by the organisation so that other employees can do their jobs,” she said.

She said “in an attempt to resolve the matter, a VSS manager contacted a police officer to ask for advice”.

“No-one else in the organisation was aware of that approach,” she said.

“The police officer offered to call a friend of the employee to ask that VSS’s equipment be returned. No report was made to police.”

Sloan said VSS had since “apologised to the staff member and her friend for any stress caused”.

InDaily reported this week that another Labor candidate – Adelaide hopeful Jo Chapley – recently quit the VSS board, citing time constraints.

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