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Government agency to undergo independent culture review, following allegations staff member urinated on colleagues

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Government agency to undergo independent culture review, following allegations staff member urinated on colleagues

An Australian government agency where a male staff member allegedly urinated on his colleagues will have its culture examined by an independent review.

Agriculture Minister Murray Watt has ordered the independent review of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), an agency that’s experienced plenty of controversy since former minister Barnaby Joyce announced its relocation from Canberra to Armidale in 2016.

Questions about the APVMA’s workplace culture were raised before a Senate Estimates hearing at Parliament House earlier this month.

During the November 8 hearing, Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson asked APVMA chief executive Lisa Croft if she was aware of any sexual harassment claims raised by staff at the agency.

“I’ve been told about an incident that occurred at a staff Christmas party in 2021, in which a male senior staff member allegedly urinated on other staff members. Was such an incident reported to you, and if so was any action taken?” Senator Whish-Wilson asked.

Whish-Wilson is wearing a blue suit, no tie, holding some papers while walking towards the camera.
Questions about the APVMA’s workplace culture were raised before a Senate Estimates by Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson.(ABC News: Matt Roberts)

Ms Croft said an incident had been raised with her.

“I am not aware of it in that context, not at a Christmas party… I am aware of an incident that occurred in a private capacity, not at a work function,” Ms Croft told the hearing.

Ms Croft said there was no official complaint made regarding the matter and that the staff member in question had resigned.

‘Review will shine a light on any lingering issues’

In a statement released on Friday, Senator Watt said he’d ordered the review, to be undertaken by Canberra lawyer Mary Brennan, following a briefing he’d received from Ms Croft and the APVMA board chair.

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