Aboriginal Department toxic: report
Allegations of a toxic culture within the Department of Aboriginal Affairs have surfaced as the Pilbara’s traditional owners join WA Labor and Greens in calling for an inquiry into the department’s management of sacred sites.
When pressed in Parliament Aboriginal Affairs Minister Peter Collier confirmed the department had conducted a review of the heritage directorate which had resulted in staff leaving the agency, but would not comment on the findings of the review.
Mr Collier ruled out any possibility of an inquiry when questioned by the Pilbara News.
He said steps taken since the Marapikurrinya Yintha site case last year had set the department on the right path.
“The department has undergone a significant transformation in the past 18 months, and I am confident this reform delivers increased fairness and certainty,” he said.
Greens Member for Mining and Pastoral Robin Chapple said he had gained access to a copy of the report, which he described as damning.
“We had an idea of what that review said but the Government said no we can’t release it to you,” he said.
“It talks about dysfunction, a lack of cohesion, a lack of confidence in administration and it also talks significantly about bullying.”
Mr Chapple said he would be the first to put his hand up to sit on an inquiry into the department.
Shadow Aboriginal affairs minister Ben Wyatt said calls for an inquiry had his backing.
“It has been disgraceful how those sites have been managed and how the register has been managed,” he said.
“I have heard about (this) survey into those working in the department that hasn’t reflected well on the department but getting information from the Government has been difficult.”
Mr Wyatt said correspondence from past and present staff suggested the department had serious internal culture problems.
Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation heritage officer Ben Fordyce said efforts by the native title representative body to access information regarding sacred sites had been stonewalled by the department.
“They (the DAA) could not give us a clear answer as to which sites had or had not been disturbed (since being de-registered),” he said.