Georgina Vasilevski was one of a four-person executive team at the urban renewal authority when she was placed on indefinite paid leave from her role as General Manager, People and Place Management, in September 2018.
In March this year – 18 months later – the state’s Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Bruce Lander announced she had been charged with one count of abuse of public office and three counts of acting dishonestly – with her lawyer Dick Whitington QC later telling the Adelaide Magistrates Court the charges related to the alleged misuse of allowances totalling just $1032.60.
Renewal SA’s former high-profile CEO John Hanlon was also charged with several offences relating to allegedly falsely claiming travel and expenses.
Both Vasilevski and Hanlon, whose contract with Renewal SA ended in July last year and was not renewed, have indicated they would contest the charges.
But Chris Menz, Hanlon’s permanent replacement as CEO, told a parliamentary hearing last week that Vasilevski’s role had been “terminated” in the meantime as part of a broader agency restructure.
In February, when the agency advertised a new role of “Executive Director, People and Culture”, InDaily asked whether that role would replace Vasilevski, who remained on leave at the time.
Renewal SA responded that the new role was “a revised position replacing the Director, People and Culture who left Renewal SA in December”.
Asked for further detail, the agency responded that as a result of that director’s departure “was an opportunity to review the requirements of the agency [which] resulted in the Executive Director, People and Culture position being recently advertised”.
“The General Manager, People and Place Management remains on leave,” they said at the time.
However, four months later, Vasilevski has been handed a redundancy as part of the same restructure.
“Ms Vasilevski is not employed by Renewal SA at this stage,” Menz told the Economic and Finance Committee.
“The executive’s employment was terminated on or around 2 June this year.”
Asked by Labor MP Stephen Mullighan whether her termination was for performance reasons or “because she had also been caught up in this legal issue”, Menz replied: “It’s not appropriate for me to comment on the legal issues but… the restructure of our organisation has meant that I came in as the incoming chief executive and was of mind to restructure the organisation in accordance with its strategy and that has resulted in a range of redundancies and proposed redundancies which included that particular position.”
He said Vasilevski’s role had covered “a much larger area” than the new position advertised in February, which covers people, culture and human resources.
It’s understood she had significant oversight of the Government’s CBD centrepiece Lot Fourteen project, as well as marketing, HR, communications and engagement and strategic project delivery.
Asked how many positions would now be required to cover the same range of responsibilities, Menz said: “I will have to take on notice the exact number of positions but I was of mind to redistribute the area formerly known as People and Place across the organisation.”
“That has resulted in some proposed redundancies across the organisation which included the one which was undertaken and terminated for the former executive,” he said.
InDaily sought confirmation from the agency of other changes, including the transfer of a senior City projects officer from the agency.
In a statement, Menz said: “Renewal SA has undertaken a review of our strategic direction and is refocussing the organisation on pipeline and major projects, as well as refocussing and reprioritising project delivery and property management.”
“Renewal SA is currently undergoing a restructure in order to align to and deliver on this new strategic direction,” he said.
“There will be a range of redundancies.
“This has included Ms Vasilevski who was made redundant on 2 June this year.”
He said other staff were “undertaking work within other departments through this restructure and transition period”.
It’s understood that includes longstanding communications manager Steve Sibonis, who is currently placed within the Planning, Transport and Infrastructure Department.
Inquiries to the office of Planning Minister Stephan Knoll were met with silence.
It comes as the Marshall Government today confirmed the acting boss of the Department for Innovation and Skills, Adam Reid, would continue in the role permanently.
He replaced previous CE Mark Duffy, who moved to a new position within the Premier’s Department earlier this year.
“Mr Reid has acted in the role since April and has demonstrated his abilities in leading this important agency,” Premier Steven Marshall said in a statement.
“He has played an integral role in the establishment of the Australian Cyber Collaboration Centre, officially launched this week, and he will continue to work to deliver in the Government’s priority areas of skills, defence, technology, cyber security, space, and the creative industries.”
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