David Rindos
20 Herdsmans Parade
Wembley 6014
387 6281

Parliamentary Commissioner
for Administrative Investigations
GOP Box X 2204
Perth 6001

8 January 1996

Dear Sir:

I request that you investigate my unjust and improper dismissal from the University of Western Australia. It is my contention that I was removed from my position, and my good name destroyed by the University not as a result of poor performance as the University would claim, but rather because I sought properly to carry out my duties under University Regulations and State and Federal Acts.

When I was acting as head of the archaeology department, I became aware of certain practices within that department which I knew were contrary to the stated aims and objectives of the University as given in its Mission Statement and Procedures Manual and which required action upon my part as provided in the University's "Regulations Governing Heads of Departments." Hence, if I were to discharge my duties as head of department, and properly observe the University's Equity Policy and Mission Statement I had to report on these events to my designated supervisors. As a employee of the State, I was acting as an Officer of the Crown in taking these actions, and was duty-bound to do so.

Motivated by the belief that certain practices that I observed were, and remain, contrary to sound educational principles and accepted norms of professional behaviour, and that certain activites occurring regularly in that department went against University Regulations as well as various Acts of Parliament which govern the University, I met with appropriate university administrators, gave evidence, and put written submissions to the appropriate officers, including the Head of Division, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, the Vice-Chancellor, and the Equity Officer.

As a result of my complaints, and those of other persons, two investigations were conducted into the affairs of the archaeology department. The first report ("The Review of Archaeology" also known as "The Bruce Report") was made available, in part, to me, but associated documents were destroyed, apparently at the direction of the University. Others are claimed to have disappeared. This report strongly confirmed my complaints and called for strong action to be taken to rectify conditions. The second report (The "Hotop/Clyde Report") has never been released and associated documents were again destroyed or have disappeared. Some of the written complaints, however, have survived and were recently tabled in the Western Australian Parliament. A schedule [Schedule #1] is attached. I know for a fact that this second report recognised that no problems existed with myself or my behaviour, and that it while it had received highly damaging submissions regarding me, it held such statements were not worthy of consideration.

I believe my dismissal was based, at least in part, in malice, even though said malice may have been the result of misinformation which was supplied but never properly investigated. Should such malice have existed, written university regulations [Professional Relationships in the University of Western Australia - Workplace Policy] would demand that the decision be rendered null and void.

Misinformation about me was propagated because it became necessary for other parties to discredit me as a result of my reports and the inquiries to which they led. Therefore, a campaign based upon false and malicious charges was begun against myself (and my students) by members of the then department of archaeology. All of these charges originated in the archaeology department. None could stand up to independent scrutiny. No such charges have ever been brought against me at any other time. They have been considered and rejected as without merit by well-informed scholars, including persons who have known me personally in other academic settings. They were repudiated by two formal University boards of inquiry and an in editorial proceedings. All of the evidence known to me is consistent with my belief that these false charges were used as the true grounds for my dismissal and, to that end, all official reports and evaluations which supported my case for tenure were excluded or ignored, often with prejudice.

A decision was made by the University that these various false allegations were to be kept hidden from me and, therefore, I never had a chance to reply to them. Various highly damaging documents, now known to me, were placed by design in a special file which was then improperly used as the primary resource in denying me tenure. Other damaging documents are know to have existed, but are said by the University to no longer exist. Some documents known to have existed are now said to never have existed. While the allegations against me were never shown to me for my knowledge or reply, charges against me were conveyed to many unconcerned parties by members of the University.

In brief, the university contrived reasons of poor academic performance to act as a cover story for my dismissal. My dismissal was based upon misinformation and a defamatory campaign, not upon inadequacies in my performance at the University. Since my sacking the University has attempted to use its considerable wealth and power to make itself effectively unaccountable for its improper actions. The University has continued in its improper behaviour by conveying misleading, false, and harmful charges abou me to various persons including members of government and the press.

Given that I believe a strong case may be made that evasion and misdirection have charactertised University replies to matters regarding my case, I hope that in your investigations you will be able to obtain evidence in the form of Statutory Declarations. I am fully prepared to put all of my testimony, including that presented here, in that form.

Specifics of my charges against the University regarding the manner in which I was dismissed follow. I also include a chronology of events relevant to my employment and eventual sacking by the University of Western Australia (Attachment #1). This document, taken in conjuction with the following pages, will help identify the documents referenced in my summary charges. I apologise in advance for the length of the chronology, but my case has now dragged on for such a long time, and is sufficiently complex, that brief treatment is impossible.

Your Sincerely, David Rindos

I Natural Justice and Due Process

"Decisions within the University should be made explicity, openly, consistently, and on the basis of relevant information." [Mission Statement]

The decision to deny tenure was prejudged at an early date. This decision and the reasons which were believed to justify it were never made known to me.
The decision to deny me tenure was widely discussed with persons other than myself well before any action was taken.
The decision to deny tenure was not based upon the appropriate criterion -- academic performance.
The decision was not explicit. No evidence exists in University files for poor performance, offical concern about poor performance, or counselling for poor performance. Yet, tenure was denied on that ground.
The process was not an open one. I was given no effective right to representation, or to know of or defend myself against charges made against me.
No opportunity was provided for appeal or review.
Highly relevant institutional factors were not taken into account.
The decision was not consistent with earlier tenure decisions made by the university.
The decision was inconsistent with, indeed contrary to, universally accepted standards for deciding upon academic tenure.
Attempts were made to blackmail me into accepting a pay-out rather than be denied tenure and the disgrace this would entail.
II University Procedures Manual

"Folios may be added to files using the records numbering system but may not be removed from files" [Proc. Man.]
My personal file at the University had material directly relevant to my tenurability removed from it. Documents bearing sequential numbers were taken out of the file and the folio numbers were then reused for other documents.

"No statement about a staff member's unsatisfactory work performance (actual or alleged) may be placed on the file without the staff member having sighted and signed the statement and being provided with a copy of the statement. Where a statement has been placed on the file under 6.1 above, the staff member may require that their written reply shall also be placed on file." [Proc. Man.]
My personal file was treated in such a manner that it was not, as required, the source of the data to be considered during my tenure review. Instead a second, hidden, file was created to hold material harmful to me such that I could neither access, nor respond, to the (false) allegations made. It was written that this material could, and must, come into consideration in deciding upon my tenure. The charges made in these docuements are referred to in all reports recommending denial of tenure.

"All file transfers must be via the Records Office." [Proc. Man.]
My personal file has recently disappeared and it is claimed that it cannot be found. This has affect my ability to obtain redress, including preparation of this document.

"Heads of department will provide written comment relating to summary and the staff member's overall performance. A copy of the summary with comment added will be provided to the staff member . . . with any recommendation appropriate to the circumstance. ie. (b) the report is not satisfactory and (ii) the period of review should be extended."[Proc Man]
In 1990 and 1991 this procedure was properly followed. Both of those reports held my performance to be satisfactory.

"Normally, on the expiration of the intital specified period, an appointment subject ot review is convered to a permanent appointment not subject to review." [Proc Man 2.4.3 and my Contract]
Normal University procedures and standards were never applied to my case. Having had two satisfactory assessments, and no notification of unsatisfactory performance during the third year, confirmation of tenure at my third anniversary was required. This point was strongly made in writing to the University by my Union.

"Heads of department will provide written comment relating to summary and the staff member's overall performance. A copy of the summary with comment added will be provided to the staff member." [Proc Man]
Dr Partis wrote no such document and provided neither counsel nor written or verbal summary regarding my third year's (1991-1992) performance report. The earlier summaries provided me indicated satisfactory performance. He, of course, was not head of my department.

"Personnel Services will (a) record that the report has been received together with any other decision taken." [Proc Man]
No such record exists.

"The University has a duty of care to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of its employees at work. The University is committed to providing, maintaining and improving, as far as it practicable, a safe working enviroment for all employees, which is conducive to productivity and job satisfaction." [Proc. Man.]
The University created a work environment which was unsafe -- administrative procedures were used to harass and create an environment leading to psychological stress.
"At all stages the utmost care will be taken to ensure confidentiality" [Sexual Harassment Section, Proc. Man.]
The vice chancellor, Professor Gale, and the head of division, Dr Partis, told many unconcerned parties, including students, that I had "formally" been charged with sexual harassment. This was factually untrue -- formal charges have a specific meaning under Equity Proceedings, and no such charges were laid. The charges themselves were false and malicious, and they were pursued without following the procedures outlined under the Procedures Manual [Sec. 1.8.3] and the University Guidelines on Sexual Harassment. My complaint to the vice chancellor about her action was never replied to, nor followed up, and has disappeared from university files.

"Complaintants will be advised at all stages of the interanl procedure to discuss their complaints with as few people as possible." [ibid.]
Two of the three women who made complaints sent letters to the press regarding me after the process had begun. When this matter was raised with Dr Partis who was (improperly) conducting the hearing on the sexual harassment charges, he dismissed the matter as if it were not worthy of consideration.

III University Mission Statement

"Values of the University include . . . ensuring justice in dealing with staff and students." [Mission Statement]
I believe the actions of the vice-chancellor and the other high administrators involved in the handling of my complaints, the problems discovered in archaeology, and my tenure review represents a total failure by them properly to carry out their duties.

All of these persons had a responsibility to the university and the larger community to ensure that they were acting fairly and justly, and on the basis of proper and correct information. They had a responsibility to ensure that they were not acting unjustly and on the basis of false and defamatory evidence. They had a responsiblity to ensure both that justice was done and was seen to be done. Such is not the case with the events in archaeology.

"The University is committed to the belief that freedom of intellectual thought and enquiry is essential to the achievement of its mission and its value to society. Academic freedom is central to the University's role and philosphy and it will seek to protect staff and students from any attempts to remove or reduce this freedom." [Mission Statement]
My reports as head of department indicated that academic freedom was under serious threat in the archaeology department. My observations were later confirmed in at least one official report which held that conditions in this area were scandalous and constituted a serious threat to the university's standards. It called for strong action to rectify these improper conditions.

In documents calling for my sacking, my actions in this regard are provided as a central reason to deny tenure. Dr Partis wrote that I had not "accepted" the "authority" of Professor Bowdler. I believe by these words he means to say that I should not have made my reports, and that I should have accepted, perhaps even cooperated with, activities I knew to be improper, unprofessional, and harmful to students and to the university as an institution.

What Dr Partis claimed I should have done, I could not do without failing in my obligations, both legal and moral, to myself, my students, and the community as a whole. I do not believe that my unwillingness to accept, and cooperate in, unprofessional, improper, and possibly even illegal activities should be accepted as a proper reason to deny me the ability to make a living in my profession.

IV The decision-making process was improper

The review process was improper in that it was directed towards attempting to find a justification for a decision already made rather than seeking a fair review of my academic performance.

Administrative transfers were used in a improper manner to ensure that I would be denied tenure.

My personal file was treated improperly and material which should never have been considered was treated as part of that file.
The standards for the review process kept changing and administrative delays occurred.
Numerous extraordinary and taxing requirements were placed upon me during the review process.
Material already provided was lost and had to be resupplied. Out of date material was sent to outside referees and to the Review Committee. Only in some cases was this discovered so that correction of the record could occur.

The demands of the process of review forced me to concentrate on providing the University with new evidence they required of me. This, of necessity, led to interference with my normal work (for example, I had to cancel research plans and was unable to meet writing deadlines). The results of this were then used to my disadvantage as evidence of non-productivity.

In June 1992, at the same time as my review was beginning, I was defending myself from several false charges which had been made against myself and my students. At the very same time I was left without any departmental affiliation when the archaeology department was dissolved and I was left without normal departmental support services. These further distracted me from my normal work.

Positive and objective evaluation and testimony was not sought and when supplied was ignored, often with prejudice.

Incomplete and misleading data were sent to outside referees.
Action was taken to use inappropriate internal assessments.
The members of the Tenure Review Committee were not my academic peers, were totally unfamiliar with my subject area, and had no academic expertise to judge my work.

Materials specifically requested from me were neither consulted nor brought into the decision-making process. This fact was freely admitted and caused the Committee to exclude the majority of my work from consideration because it was too "technical" for them to understand.

The University did not follow the industrial legal advice provided it regarding the manner in which the decision had to be made.

V The Data used was misleading, improper or fallacious.

Data which could have supported my case for tenure "disappeared" from university files.

This pattern has continued to the present with claims being made that documents which might serve to support my case are missing.

Performance indicators which could have supported my case for tenure were excluded or ignored.

Official decisions made by the University, over which I had no control whatsoever, were used as evidence of my poor performance.
The Vice-Chancellor, in her denial of my tenure, added totally non-academic and purely personal reasons to the allegedly "academic" ones advanced by the Tenure Review Committee.

V. The decision was made on fallacious grounds

Even before the review had begun, the university was making public comments about how an alleged "personality dispute" was the basis for the problems discovered in archaeology.

The decision to sack me was based upon the false claim that I was a "guilty party" and that my removal, therefore, would somehow bring about a "solution" to the problems discovered in the archaeology department by an offical review.
The decision to deny tenure appears to have been motivated by malice, even if said malice was based upon misinformation supplied the Vice-Chancellor and other university administrators. They failed in their duties by not seeking to discover the true facts of the case.

VI Contract, Award and Industrial Provisions

The contractually established nature of my position (its financially protected status) was abrogated by executive fiat.

My dismissal was not ratified by Senate as demanded by my contract.
Specific and detalied Award provisions were ignored.
A proper academic environment was not provided following my forced return to Archaeology (1992). This precipitated written complaints.

I was removed from any and all proper departmental affiliation when I was excluded, apparently on the basis of misinformation regarding myself, from incorporation with other members of the archaeology department when they were moved into the administrative care of the anthropology department.

Long standing and universally accepted standards for tenuring were totally ignored.
The University seeks to maintain that I was not dismissed, but that my contract was merely "not renewed."
VII The decision has treated improperly by the University

Judgments have been described in exceedingly ambiguous terms apparently designed to evade the real reasons underlying denial.

False and oftentimes damaging statements have been publicly made about the review process, the reasons for the decision, my "acceptability" to other departments, my personal behaviour, and my academic performance.

False and malicious allegations against me were shown to and discussed with unconcerned parties by members of the Administration. This was done in total contravention of written regulations.

False and likely defamatory public statements have been made about me, with the University going so far as to make false negative claims about the quality of my scholarship and even impuning that I was involved in improper personal relationships with my students.

Documents are said to have disappeared, and the university has refused properly to cooperate with the Freedom of Information Commission, causing complaints to be written about its behaviour in the Commissioner's Judgment.

Officers of the University have falsely claimed to many parties that I "resigned" from my position, and hence have no aveune for appeal. This is a fabrication contradicted by the written record.

The university appears to be willing to indemnify people who are currently not members of the university in civil action. Given advice I have received, their decision effectively prevents such actions because of the huge potential costs I could occur during litigation, costs I cannot afford.

Advice from academics and members of Parliament, confirmed by Press Reports, hold that on more than one occasion the vice-chancellor of another University in Perth sought to intervene with UWA to propose means for resolving the current situation. I understand that UWA was unwilling to cooperate towards this end.

My own early (1993) attempts to find a quiet resolution were repudiated.

The university now publicly pretends that this case is "in the past" and not worthy of further discussion or consideration.

The University may not be fully carrying out its duties as a Government Agency.

VIII Unnecessary harm has been caused by the decision

The effect of these actions by UWA has been to destroy my career and my good name, thereby preventing me future employment. For personal reasons, I must remain in Australia.

I have been unable to gain even honorary appointments at universities within Australia so that I might continue with the supervision of my students and apply for grants. This was solely a result of people at other departments not wishing to "get involved" in matters at UWA.

The effect upon my health and peace of mind has been devastating.
According to data provided to me, problems of academic freedom in the archaeology programme at the university continue. The actions of the university to resolve the underlying problems have failed and students continue to suffer. The university has failed to meet its full obligations under the Act of Parliament which brought it into being.

The effect of these actions upon my students has been profound and gravely harmful. I cannot speak for them in this appeal, but hope that their concerns will be heard in some forum so that at least some of the damage may be undone.

Respectfully submitted

David J Rindos