“The City of Ballarat is aware of the Victorian Ombudsman’s report released this morning containing allegations that two of its senior officers may have acted improperly.
The City of Ballarat is committed to making Ballarat a better place for all and continuing to deliver for the community of Ballarat. Our codes of conduct also clearly outline the high ethical standards expected of Councillors and council staff.
The Council is deeply concerned and disappointed by the allegations and the findings of the Ombudsman’s report. Such allegations do not align with the City of Ballarat values and governance practices
To ensure fair and due process, Council CEO Justine Linley, is on leave while the Council is considering its formal response to the Ombudsman’s report. Director Mr Terry Demeo will also be on leave after today.
Mr Neville Ivey has been appointed Acting CEO while Ms Linley is on leave.
The wellbeing and welfare of all our employees remains a priority and we have offered our employee assistance program (EAP) to all of our staff.
While the Council is considering its formal response, it would be inappropriate to comment further and as such, the Council will not be making any further comment on the matter.”
The Victorian Ombudsman has found that Ms Linley and Mr Demeo gave personal associates and former colleagues preferential treatment in employment decisions.
Ombudsman Deborah Glass said her investigation began after eight whistle-blower complaints to her office, “first alleging a director was hiring his mates, then alleging his boss was hiring hers”.
”Council staff became genuinely concerned that senior officers were employing their friends, and it is a poor look for the council that such a view should flourish,” Ms Glass said.
Tabling her Investigation into alleged improper conduct by Executive Officers at Ballarat City Council in the Victorian Parliament today, Ms Glass said the Director, Infrastructure and Environment was found to have been improperly involved in recruiting three former colleagues to senior roles at the Council. He also changed a Position Description for a role to better suit one of them after HR raised concerns about their suitability for the original role.
While less serious, the CEO was involved in employment decisions regarding two staff, which were “unwise at best, and may have been improper”.
Ms Glass said not all of the allegations against the CEO and Director were substantiated.