WA Department of Communities: Details of desperate measures to uncover leak sources revealed


The WA Department of Communities was so desperate to stop media leaks it reported eight of its own employees to police.
New details of an internal investigation Communities conducted to highlight the lengths the department took to try to discover the source of a series of stories published by The West Australian.
It can now be revealed that the department reported a total of eight staff to police on January 21 after an internal investigation of leaking identified 13 suspects.
Communities’ police report was made just days after The West published a story on internal documents which revealed wide-scale racism within the department.
Police have since told Communities they will not be prosecuting any of the eight employees the department reported.
Communities had also reported the eight to the Corruption and Crime Commission, but it, too, declined to take any action.
All 13 people investigated, including the eight reported to police, remain employed by Communities.
Last month, The West revealed how 10 police officers had raided the home of an Aboriginal woman who works for the department after a complaint from Communities relating to media leaks.
Documents that were the focus of the raid included a report from psychologist Tracy Westerman which exposed racism in the department.
Shadow police minister Peter Collier said the department’s referral was intimidating to employees and reflected a lack of transparency.
“If you were an employee at Communities, you’d be looking over your shoulder, you don’t have a harmonious workplace, where you know that the people in charge are more than likely going to report you to police,” he said.
“It is symbolic of the culture that exists in that department, a lack of trust within the Department of Communities that is at a crisis point.”
Communities’ deputy director-general of governance, integrity and reform, Catherine Stoddart, declined to answer detailed questions, saying it was “still subject to an internal investigation”.
She said the department was obliged to follow guidelines for reporting suspicious or criminal conduct A Government spokesperson confirmed Community Services Minister Simone McGurk, pictured, had been advised of the police referral on January 25.
“Aligned with public sector disciplinary guidelines, the Department of Communities is required to investigate potential criminal conduct and report it to the WA Police and the CCC,” the spokesperson said.
This story and its contents have been taken from The West Australian. You can read the original and first published article by clicking here.
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