20 February, 1992

Notes prepared for presentation of the Report on the Review of the Department of Archaeology by the Review Committee to the Planning and Resources Committee on 20 February, 1992.

These notes were prepared by Neville Bruce, Convenor of the Review Committee.

l) This review was a difficult one:

(2) For these reasons, we offer the Planning and Resources Committee additional information that, for reasons that will become apparent, were not included in the body of the report but have bearing on some of the recommendations made.

3) The review process and the report submitted to the Planning and Resources Committee essentially followed the guidelines set out in the initial brief to the Review Committee. The report is ordered and presented according to the Terms of Reference given to the Committee as has been the established practice in previous reviews.

4) We suggest, however, that this review is best considered in two parts which cut across the ordering of the terms of reference. Part ONE relates to matters which we believe are of serious concern to the University and require urgent action and part TWO relates to matters such as accommodation, resources etc which could be attended to later.

5) We have presented the need for urgent attention in the Introduction to the Review Report:

and in the Recommendations:

"The Committee believes that Recommendations 1-3 relate to matters of serious concern to the University and require urgent attention. ......

  1. that the Vice-Chancellor investigates, as a matter of priority, the management practices within the Department.

  2. that the Vice-Chancellor, resolves the divisions that have developed within the Department.

  3. that the Vice-Chancellor, in conjunction with the Equity Officer, investigates purportedly inequitable behaviour within the Department."

6) The basis for these recommendations are found in the body of the report but are presented in more detail as follows:

The Committee interviewed 34 people over a one week period and received unsolicited submissions from 12 including six of those interviewed. Thus, information was obtained from forty individuals. In addition, the Committee had access to undergraduate surveys of teaching quality and a graduate survey of experiences obtained in undertaking a course in Archaeology.

Numerous and disturbing allegations were made about the department or its staff which can be grouped as follows.

Academic Staff: Two present and one previous member of staff claimed that they were harrassed or received inequitable treatment of a serious nature. Two of these allegations were documented and I suspect, that had the committee wished to probe further, more allegations would have been elicited.

Postgraduate students: The Committee interviewed or received documents from seven current postgraduate students. Three students reported that they had no significant problems. On the other hand, four claimed that they had been very poorly supervised and/or had been subjected to inequitable treatment of a serious nature. The Committee understands that some of these claims have been upheld in that the Scholarships Committee undertook the extraordinary step of extending the duration of scholarships because of problems in supervision.

Three submissions were received from graduates who claimed that they had been denied fair opportunity to carry out post-graduate work in the Department.

Graduate students: Standard questionnaires were sent to the twenty four graduates who had majored in Archaeology in recent years. Seventeen replies were received which is apparently well above normal return rates.

Community Representatives: In interviews with members of museums, other tertiary institutes, relevant public authorities etc. a number of individuals expressed the view that an open and fair academic approach to Archaeology was not being offered at this University and that changes would be welcomed.

Professional Archaeologists: Three archaeologists practicing in Western Australia claimed that members of this University followed discriminatory practices or had instigated means to effectively disenfranchise them from precaution their profession in this state.

Mining Companies and one interstate academic: Claimed that the Centre for Prehistory had acted unprofessionally in some of its reports and recommendations.

7) Collectively these allegations presented a major problem to the Review Committee for the following reasons:

a) The allegations had to be treated in total confidence. The committee made the decision to destroy all records of them and not to raise them in public so as to enable identification of those concerned.

Having said that, all interviewed or who had made submissions to the Review Committee were invited to resubmit their statements to the Vice-Chancellor together with permission for her to use them, if so needed, whilst preserving their anonymity.

b) The Committee could read the documents and listen at interviews and count and judge the seriousness of allegations. But the Committee could not verify the allegations; it had neither the time, the brief nor the expertise to do so.

c) Thus the committee was only prepared to present the allegations in broad terms in the report presented to this Committee. As Convenor, I believe that the detail expressed in these notes should not be made public. If the allegations prove to be unfounded, publicising them at this time would be to needlessly damage the reputations of staff and students of the Department of Archaeology. To ignore them, however, would be to risk grave injustice.

9) Since the full Review Committee met in November of 1991, a number of developments have occurred and information come to hand. We stand by the recommendations made in our Report. But the two internal members of the Committee have come to the view that a full and properly consitituted committee should be set up by the Vice-Chancellor to properly and fully investigate the allegations alluded to above. We believe that this would only be fair to all concerned, to those who have made the allegations and to those who have been criticised but have not yet been given the opportunity to reply.

10) I would like to make one final comment and that is to extend my thanks and appreciation to the secretary and two other members of the Committee. As convenor, I would like it publicly recorded that they worked diligently and sensitively on what was a very difficult task. I had total confidence in their actions, we were all present at all of the interviews and developed a collegiate approach which was essential to make any worthwhile conclusions on the disturbing information received.

21 February, 1992


emphasis is original.

[A copy of these notes was also forwarded to Dr Michael Partis who then was the the Acting Head of Division and Executive Head of the Department of Archaeology]

For greater detail on the conditions in archaeology, see the confidential letter sent by the members of the Committee to Heads of Divisions.