There was a time that departmental secretaries received relatively modest salaries, worked hard in the background in the interests of the Australian people and helped governments by providing sensible advice.
Those days have sadly passed.
Today’s departmental secretaries are overpaid, egotistical and chase personal publicity and celebrity. They need to signal their personal virtue.
The latest outrage occurred when the secretaries got together to sign a domestic violence pledge, with PM&C secretary Mr Parkinson leading the way.
This is wrong in so many ways – what right have departmental secretaries to pry into the private lives of their staff? Are they going to install cameras in people’s homes? If (say) one half of a PM&C couple applies for domestic violence leave, will the other half be automatically sacked? Or, for that matter, if a person applies for domestic violence leave will there be action taken against the partner who is employed elsewhere in the public service?
Secretaries have a responsibility to provide a safe working environment. They have a right to demand their staff abide by the APS code of conduct. But they have no right to interfere in the private lives of staff in their homes.
And take this from the statement (reproduced in full below):
While men do experience domestic and family violence and sexual assault, the evidence shows that most victims are women.
But the survey cited – ABS Cat No. 4906, Personal Safety Survey, shows that more men experience violence than women (42 per cent of men compared with 37 per cent of women). It also shows that the rate of violence is falling, but it is also concentrated in particular areas.
The proper authorities for addressing violence, whether sexual, domestic or otherwise, are the Police, not departmental secretaries.
Yet it does seem the departmental secretaries will be prying into the private lives of their staff
We understand the boundaries between work and personal life are not absolute. We also acknowledge that we play a role in reinforcing respectful behaviours and relationships.
And for those at the Cat who say Who Cares? They are only public servants, these types of pledges are being signed by CEOs of major companies trying to virtue signal too.
Look at the pledge
I will stand up, speak out and act to prevent men’s violence against women.
What about violence again men (which is more prevalent)? How will they act to prevent men’s violence against women?
By the way, not signing such pledges does not mean one supports violence.
The statement reads:
On White Ribbon Day, the Australian Public Service’s departmental secretaries affirm our commitment to addressing domestic and family violence within our workplaces.
Domestic violence takes many forms. It is a crime of power and control. It is inexcusable in any form and should never be trivialised.
We understand that, while there is complexity to the underlying drivers of this violence, more often than not it is driven by gender inequality. While men do experience domestic and family violence and sexual assault, the evidence shows that most victims are women. Both men and women are three times more likely to be assaulted by a man than a woman.
We acknowledge that the victims, perpetrators and witnesses of this crime are within our workforce. According to current statistics, almost one in three Australian women over the age of 15 will experience physical violence, and one in five will experience sexual violence.
These are dreadful statistics, yet they tell only part of the story. These experiences are accompanied by both physical and emotional trauma that can last well beyond the time of the offence.
Australian government departments have developed domestic violence policies and/or guidance. These policies were developed to give staff affected by violence the reassurance that flexible and timely support is available.
Through our workplace responses to domestic violence, the APS secretaries are contributing to the integrated responses to this issue being pursued through the COAG under The National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2010‑2022. This approach is also reflected in the development aid we provide to countries in our regions.
In September, secretaries from across the APS met to consider how to improve support for staff affected by this crime. We agreed to explore ways to better support staff who are exposed to (or witness) this crime, both in person and through secondary exposure, including from client-facing activities. We also considered how workplaces could engage with staff who use, or may use, violence, to support behavioural change.
As leaders, we know our actions, by example, set the standard for our staff’s behaviour. We understand the boundaries between work and personal life are not absolute. We also acknowledge that we play a role in reinforcing respectful behaviours and relationships.
Given the well-documented prevalence and harm it causes, reducing the occurrence of domestic and family violence is a pressing national issue that we, as leaders, will address. We hope you will join us in committing to supporting respectful relationships in the workplace and in your community.
Martin Parkinson – Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
John Lloyd – Australian Public Service Commission
Chris Moraitis – Attorney-General’s Department
Daryl Quinlivan – Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
Mike Mrdak – Department of Communications and the Arts
Greg Moriarty – Department of Defence
Michele Bruniges – Department of Education and Training
Kerri Hartland – Department of Employment
Rosemary Huxtable – Department of Finance
Frances Adamson – Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Glenys Beauchamp – Department of Health
Renée Leon – Department of Human Services
Michael Pezzullo – Department of Immigration and Border Protection
Heather Smith – Department of Industry, Innovation and Science
Steven Kennedy – Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development
Kathryn Campbell – Department of Social Services
Finn Pratt – Department of the Environment and Energy
Simon Lewis – Department of Veterans’ Affairs
John Fraser – The Treasury