Re bullying in SGSC meetings
This topic has headlined recently in both our local newspapers. In fact it has been the reality at all council meetings since a government-appointed monitor has been in attendance ostensibly to witness and take action against this sort of unacceptable behaviour.
I was present at the last two SGC meetings.
At the conclusion of each of these meetings a female councillor resigned citing in-house bullying as their reason.
After each prepared resignation speech, a formal florist arrangement was presented to each councillor accompanied by stereotyped almost identical words from the mayor thanking each councillor for their service and bemoaning their loss to the council.
I was moved at Cr Maxine Keil’s openness, her genuine honesty about the difficulties she had faced and her pleas for a change in behaviour.
I was shocked by the body language of the other councillors at the session as she delivered her final speech.
They were openly unmoved, unapologetic and unsympathetic during its delivery.
Not one councillor offered her any emotional physical or verbal support that I heard expressed and minuted (Editor: Cr Skinner offered a handkerchief, others support after).
In the last session Cr Meg Edwards encountered open bullying and harassment throughout her entire resignation speech.
This was from Cr Alyson Skinner who rudely interrupted and protested throughout the entire course of her speech.
The mayor, Cr Lorraine Brunt exercised no control or dicipline over this behaviour without first constantly asking the CEO Tim Tamlin, who sat alongside her, for directions about what to do, but from the pre-ordered florist tribute she presented at the session, it was very obvious that she had had every opportunity to prepare herself to correctly control and preside at such a meeting.
She never called the meeting to order or advised Cr Skinner to stop her rude, shameful behaviour which Cr Skinner claimed was in the interests of preserving the good reputation of the council.
I notice the press have discussed widely the bullying behaviour of Cr Rich which was also a prominent item on the agenda of this dysfunctional council.
Maybe the interest in his bullying relates to the cost to us, the ratepayers.
Again the subject was raised with the condemnation of Mr Nigel Hutchinson-Brookes about unacceptable behaviour he was familiar with and would expect if he were to accept office
But sadly lacking was any serious discussion from the press or the public about the bullying experienced by their female representatives who have bravely and openly raised the issue.
That is absolutely shocking as we, the public, admittedly only three women were in the gallery that I noticed, were unable to speak in sympathy or support or in condemnation of the disgraceful behaviour we were witnessing. The two most obvious bullies in the council, in action during Cr Edwards’ resignation speech were both female – Cr Skinner in open attack and Cr Brunt in sheer inadequacy to control a fair and disciplined session.
This bullying behaviour needs to be called out and stopped.
Don’t the local South Gippsland women care enough to show their support and demand change?
It is not good enough to throw another brave, strong woman into the den as a sacrifice.
This whole council should be dissolved immediately and a new culture of no tolerance for bullying, of openness, transparency and effective management installed as soon as possible.
Marie Gerrard-Staton, Korumburra.