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Rumour File informant dismissed unfairly, Fair Work rules, The Age

By Alan J. McDonald


A Department of Human Services employee sacked for blowing the whistle on talkback radio about razor wire being installed at Parkville Youth Detention Centre has won his unfair dismissal battle.

JR phoned 3AW’s popular Rumour File segment last August and said: ”They’re gonna put up razor wire to keep the inmates in. They’ve been escaping a fair bit down here, in Melbourne.”

JR, the centre’s fire, safety and security co-ordinator, said he made the phone call because he hoped it would pressure the department to install razor wire.

At the time, staff had been hurt during a series of escapes and attempted escapes at the Parkville centre and  said something needed to be done to prevent staff or members of the public being put at risk.

The Department’s lawyer told the Fair Work Commission that JR was privy to information about the razor wire being installed because he dealt with the contractors providing a quote. It considered that the leaked information could have alerted inmates or their families to a vulnerability in the centre’s security. The Department dismissed JR.

Fair Work commissioner Cribb found there was a valid reason for the Department’s decision on the basis of misconduct and reinstating him would be inappropriate. However, she concluded JR’s dismissal was harsh and he had been unfairly dismissed.

The Department was ordered to compensate JR over $38,000.