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Court Services Victoria fined $380k for ‘toxic’ workplace

WorkSafe has convicted and fined Court Services Victoria for just under $380,000.

user iconNaomi Neilson 19 October 2023 Big Law
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Court Services Victoria (CSV), the body responsible for Victoria’s court system, was sentenced and fined $379,157 for the rampant misconduct within the Coroners Court.

CSV pleaded guilty to a single charge of failing to provide and maintain a safe workplace.

A number of complaints had been made about the Coroners Court workplace between December 2015 and September 2018, including allegations of a risk of exposure to traumatic materials, role conflict, high workloads and inappropriate workplace behaviours.

 
 

Workers said they were subjected to bullying, favouritism, verbal abuse, derogatory comments, intimidation, invasions of privacy, and perceived threats to their career progression.

Principal in-house solicitor Jessica Wilby took her life in September 2018 after she had been on personal leave for three months.

During this time, she was diagnosed with a work-related major depressive disorder.

CSV admitted to a failure to identify the risks and a failure to conduct an adequate assessment of the risks to the psychological health of employees at the Coroners Court.

Narelle Beer, WorkSafe executive director of health and safety, said it is an employer’s legal duty to “do everything they possibly can” to support their workers “and ensure they leave work each day no worse than how they arrived”.

“Everyone in an organisation has a role to play in creating a healthy and safe environment, but the development of a positive culture and appropriate risk control measures depends on leadership from the top,” Dr Beer said.

Help is available via Lifeline on 13 11 14 and Beyond Blue at 1300 22 4636. Each law society and bar association also has resources available on their respective websites.