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The ADCQ Conciliation Conference.

Present at the conference was my representative, Mr L Laikind; my mother and I; the ADCQ conciliator, Mr Weekes; the Director of nursing, Ms Kate Mason; Ms Mason's representative, Mr S Donovan and the representative for Queensland Health, Mr Bill Evans.

There were two conference rooms in use for the conciliation process; one in which the Queensland Health party remained which provided jugs of water and was comfortably warm, and the other in which much time was spent by my mother, Mr Laikind and I, which was very cold and had no water provisions.

Before leading us into Queensland Health’s conference room Mr Weekes stressed to my mother she was not to say a word, and instructed me I not to ask questions.

I had no idea Mr Laikind had forwarded my questions to the ADCQ.

In the first instance Mr Weekes wanted me to tell of the discrimination and, without hearing a response from Ms Mason, Mr Weekes ushered my mother, Mr Laikind and I into the anti-room for a considerable length time.

Once returned by Mr Weekes to the conference, the dialogue was such that it prevented any discussion about the correspondence between my doctor, Ms Mason and I during the course of the discrimination, and Mr CG's confirmation to me that Ms Mason's letter to me, dated 25 May 1998, had been deceptive.

It was an extremely impossible conference whereby the information in the correspondence, which conflicted with the information provided to the Commissioner by Ms Mason, which Dr Menzies corroborated to the Commissioner, was not open for discussion. When my mother tried to open up the dialogue she was abruptly shushed by my solicitor and Mr Weekes ushered us out again.

I felt bad for my mother who was only trying to help, and couldn’t understand why Mr Laikind had intervened in such a way, especially after having pointed out to the Commissioner the erroneous content in Ms Mason’s letter of 25 May 1998 which, due to the incapacity rendered, had forced me to resign.

This time we were not returned!

When Mr Weekes finally came back he asked my mother to leave because he wanted to speak with me.

I thought he would have been returned us to the conference but stated I needed to come to an agreement with Queensland Health.

He began bartering.

All in all, more time had been spent in the ant-room and conciliation had not been achieved.

My request for a resumption so Ms Mason could explain why she didn't rescind her restriction when it forced me to resign, as an alternative to processing my resignation based on my inability to comply, was refused.

I asked for the tribunal to determine the truth contained in my evidence which, to date, had not been acknowledged or addressed.

Mr Weekes refused, advising he had been instructed by the Commissioner my complaint would not be progressed and I could either come to an agreement with Queensland Health, or withdraw my complaint. Mr Laikind added that I stood to lose my home if my complaint was referred.

I knew Ms Mason retained correspondence during the investigation, which was missing from my personnel file, and that Mr Evans and Mr Donovan had, during the conference, withheld their knowledge of information contained in those documents retrieved by them from Ms Mason, following their FOI searches.

I also knew they were aware that information, pertinent to my claim and contained in the correspondence, had been omitted by Ms Mason in her response to the Commissioner.

I told Mr Weekes, who was negotiating between the two rooms, that Queensland Health needed to be more honest about information Ms Mason had omitted from her statement, particularly the content of her letter dated 25 May 1998 which was deceptive, and was the basis for the ADCQ's acceptance of my complaint.

Mr Weekes returned with an agreement.

I couldn't possibly sign the agreement because it included a confidentiality clause and excluded Ms Mason's deception.

Mr Weekes was becoming more agitated, still refusing my request for a referral to the tribunal; raising his arms and voice saying "I don't care, I really don't care" emphasizing that he really didn't care and all he wanted was for the conference to be over by 2pm.

He told me I had to ether sign the agreement or withdraw my complaint.

I said I could not do either, that I had no wish to withdraw my complaint which, I believed, should be referred to the tribunal.

Mr Weekes was visibly angry with me and left the room again.

I explained to Mr Laikind I was very unhappy with the way the conference suddenly concluded and felt Ms Mason, Mr Donovan and Mr Evans, by their silence, and Mr Weekes, by his handling of the conference, had deliberately covered up the suppression of Ms Mason's deception in her letter dated 25 May 1998.

If my footwear had not become an issue I would have resumed working following recovery from the foot surgery. It did not seem right that CN Clench had not responded to explain her sudden objection to footwear previously accepted.

I told him I did not want to withdraw my complaint, which had not been properly investigated, and would not sign a confidentiality clause because there had been a cover-up.

It seemed very wrong that Ms Mason had not explained why she did not follow correct procedure to actually make the inquiries falsely claimed by her, in her letter of 25 May.

Mr Laikind told me my complaint would not be referred for a Tribunal determination but, if I withdrew my complaint and didn't sign a confidentiality agreement, I would be free to take these concerns to the Queensland Ombudsman.

Mr Weekes returned saying the Tribunal was not an option for me; it was almost 2pm and he wanted to close the conference, again saying my options were to sign the agreement with Queensland Health or withdraw my complaint, in writing.

It went against every nerve in my body when, under the most extreme duress I withdrew my complaint; the substance of which was contained in the documents retrieved from Ms Mason, following the FOI searches for pertinent correspondence missing from my personnel file. 

FOI later released the ADCQ file note regarding the conference:

Ms Mason confirmed WPHS had not authorized her to restrict my required footwear in May and had named CN Clench as the instigator of the unauthorized restriction.

CN Clench was relieved of any accountability for deeming the medically prescribed footwear she had approved of, suddenly inappropriate.

CN Clench, a named respondent, did not respond to explain her sudden objection which ultimately led to the the footwear restriction placed by Ms Mason.

Importantly, according to the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (The ADA), CN Clench was liable for her contravention of the Act:

Section 123 of the ADA:

“If (a) a person requests or encourages another person to contravene the Act;

and (b) the other person acts, or attempts to act on the request or encouragement; both are jointly severally and civilly liable for the contravention.”

Equally disturbing is the apparent lack of power, under the ADA, of the ADCQ to determine the truth:

The Queensland Ant-Discrimination Act 1991 regarding conciliation:

Division 4- Unonciliated complaints. Section 164A

Right of a complainant to seek referral to tribunal after conciliation conference.

(1) This section applies if- (a) a conciliation conference has been held under division 3 in relation to a complaint; and (b) the complaint has not been resolved by conciliation.

Perhaps, when the conciliation was unsuccessful, the tribunal should have determined the truth after Ms Mason admitted she had not, in contrast with her letter dated 25 may 1998, made specific inquiries about my footwear requirements with the Department of WPHS.

The Principal conciliator later advised:

Mr Laikind later intimated that if conciliation failed to reach an agreement, the ADCQ was going to dismiss my complaint as lacking in substance:

Had I known my complaint would be dismissed as lacking in substance I would have never have withdrawn my complaint against Queensland Health.

It would have been far more ideal had my complaint been dismissed because, as explained by Mr Laikind, I could, and would, have appealed on the basis the evidence supporting of my complaint had been buried.

The Queensland Ant-Discrimination Act 1991 regarding the role of the Commissioner when conciliation is unsuccessful:

Section 165

(1) If the Commissioner believes that a complaint cannot be resolved by conciliation the Commissioner must promptly tell the complainant and the respondent by written notice.

Section 166 Complainant may obtain referral of unconciliated complaint.

(1) A complainant is entitled to require the Commissioner to refer a complaint to the tribunal by making a written request within 28 days of being notified that the complaint cannot be resolved by conciliation.

Perhaps, after all, I did have a right for the tribunal to determine the truth!

When I returned home from the conference I received Mr Donovan's mail:

During his purported investigation Dr Menzies had full access to the evidence contained in the Queensland Health 'ADCQ' file, the same evidence which Ms Mason had completely suppressed.

My personnel file had been signed out to Ms Mason before and throughout the discrimination investigation:

Further FOI searches in 2006 revealed that my personnel file had not, as required by Queensland Health policy, and as claimed by Mr Donovan, been signed out to Ms Mason for nine months:

At that point in time I didn’t know which was worse, the events surrounding the discrimination or the inaction of Mr S Donovan and Mr B Evans, during their representation of Queensland Health, which prevented them from revealing their knowledge of the information Ms Mason had suppressed.

My realization of the fact that the Queensland Health administration is more concerned with covering-up professional misconduct within its ranks, be it contravening the law or lying to a Commission about the contravention, I soon realized that their lack of dealing with such issues is broader and far more damaging than the original contravention it is prepared to protect.

I took my concerns to the Queensland Ombudsman.

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