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Email sacking bungle infuriates ATSIC workers

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 11 June 2004


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) workers are considering legal action today after an official email was mistakenly sent out advising them they had been fired.

Termination letters were sent by email to researchers and personal assistants who work for ATSIC commissioners in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Several hours later, a further email advised those affected that the termination letter was a mistake.

New South Wales ATSIC commissioner Rick Griffith says those responsible for the embarrassing bungle should be fired.

"It's not just my two staff that have been affected by this, I believe that later in the afternoon other commissioners' staff got the letter also," he said.

"I am also going to be putting the Minister [for Indigenous Affairs Amanda Vanstone] on notice that there needs to be an investigation into these sorts of irresponsible behaviour by senior public servants."

An ATSIC spokesman confirmed the termination notices were mistakenly sent to a number of staff and commissioner Griffiths says it caused severe and unnecessary stress.

"It caused a lot of grief for my two staff, I can tell you," he said.

"There wasn't much I could say and I get a phone call later that afternoon to say it was all a mistake, well I can tell you, it is not going to finish here.

"I think it is reprehensible and I honestly believe those people should be dismissed instantly."

Victorian ATSIC commissioner Troy Austin says none of the commissioners have supported any move to sack their staff and believes the email has exposed a hidden agenda.

"We will be putting a budget to the Minister that includes our personal assistants and research officers and support from central office as well, to make sure we are able to carry out obligations as the board of commissioners," he said.

"They will be terminated on the close of business on June 30, 2004, and as I said it looks as though there are preparations, if in fact the Minister doesn't provide any ongoing funding for their employment."


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