Half of Tasmanian State Service employees feel unsupported by work in family violence situations

Just 49 per cent of Tasmanian public service employees agreed their organisation was supportive of workers experiencing family violence, a survey has revealed. 

Community and Public Sector Union general secretary Tom Lynch said The People Matter Survey’s findings were “startling”. 

“[The Premier] said [family violence] was a core issue of his government, but less than half of public sector workers believe their organisation is actually supportive,” Mr Lynch said.

A state government spokeswoman said the government was committed to addressing the family violence “scourge” with its Family Violence Action Plan. 

“As part of the upcoming Public Sector Union Wages Agreement, the government has included dedicated Family Violence Leave initially up to 10 days for employees experiencing family violence,” the spokeswoman said. 

“Under the new provisions employees will continue to be supported in the workplace and flexibly attend appointments, adjust their work patterns and have access to counselling services.”

The survey also revealed that bullying in the public sector has risen slightly over the past year.

Twenty-two per cent of survey respondents reported that they had personally experienced workplace bullying in the past 12 months and 33 per cent reported witnessing bullying or repeated negative behaviour directed towards an employee. 

This represented a 3 per cent rise on personal experiences and witnessed accounts from the year before.

Labor finance spokesman Scott Bacon said the survey meant that one in five public sector workers had experienced bullying in the last year.

He attempted to link the rise with a recent incident of alleged bullying from a senior member of government against an upper house MLC and a perceived weak response by Premier Will Hodgman.

“Now we’ve got a report that shows bullying is on the rise and the Premier is not in a position to address it,” Mr Bacon said.

“Until the Premier deals with the trouble in his own backyard, he won’t be able to help change the culture within his workforce.”

State government minister Guy Barnett tried to claim that workplace bullying had decreased by 20 per cent over the government’s term, highlighting a 2013 survey conducted by the Community and Public Sector Union that stated 54 per cent of Tasmanian public servants had witnessed workplace bullying.

“It is disappointing that Labor is now trying to politicise and trivialise this important matter,” Mr Barnett said.

The recent survey took the views of 8202 employees into account, or one-third of the public sector workforce.