Legislative Council and Legislative Assembley
[Thursday 14 December
HON MARK NEVILL (Mining and Pastoral):
I now take the opportunity available in debate on this Bill to speak on other issues. In doing so, I address what I consider to be a very serious situation at the University of Western Australia. I have been involved in negotiations and discussion for 12 to 18 months in this matter, and feel very little progress has been made. The handling of the archaeology affair at the University of Western Australia is unfortunately an unfinished chapter in that institution's history. Deputy Vice Chancellor Robson seems to think it has been completed and that there is nothing more to say and nothing more will happen. He is quite wrong. Anyone who examines the facts of the matter in detail will soon realise that the handling of this issue by the University of Western Australia has been disgraceful and, probably, scandalous.
The affair at the University of Western Australia involves the exploitation of students in that department. There is also the sexual exploitation of students. I believe the University of Western Australia has abrogated its duty of care to the students in that department, some of who have been forced to leave the department and complete their studies overseas. The treatment of Dr David Rindos has been appalling. It was the subject of a very competent article by Kate Legge in The Weekend Australian some weeks ago and an editorial in The Australian the following Monday. The behaviour of Professor Sandra Bowdler and her group of followers has been appalling also.
I am disconcerted by the failure of the management of UWA to address this problem properly. The subsequent denial of tenure to Dr David Rindos should never have happened. Management claims that the denial of tenure had nothing to do with the problems in the archaeology department. It is clear that it has everything to do with the problems in that department. I have met the vice chancellor and the deputy vice chancellor on a number of occasions. I have been involved in some discussions to try to resolve this issue but each time I seem to meet with disinterest, as though the matter is in the past and no more can be done to resolve it.
Hon Derrick Tomlinson: The problem is not disinterest. There is real interest, not a lack of interest because of that interest.
Hon MARK NEVILL: I can accept what the member is saying. The politics of the University of Western Australia have been in top gear for some time to avoid dealing with the crux of the problem. Deputy Vice Chancellor Robson seems to have his head in the sand as though no problem exists. He claims that all the bad publicity that UWA can get from this issue has already been served on it. I do not believe Professor Robson really understands the depth of feeling both within UWA and the university communities nationally and internationally. Dr Rindos is a pre-eminent archaeologist. He has written some seminal works in archaeology and is regarded as one of the most original thinkers in archaeology in the world. Dr Rindos has his strange facets, but that is often the case with academics.
The University of western Australia has failed to comply with the directives of the freedom of information commissioner, who has made findings against UWA. The result of this affair is that UWA and the university community in general have failed to provide a credible and viable archaeology discipline to service the needs of Western Australia. With issues such as Mabo and economic development it is essential that we have a functioning archaeology unit in Western Australia which has respect and credibility and which turns out competent graduates.
I recently visited some caves in the north Kimberley to examine some Bradshaw figures which predate the Wandjinas, which the current tribes have painted on the cave walls. The Bradshaw figures relate to completely different people that were here earlier. Very little research has been done on those figures. I have a published volume of photographs of some of the figures signed by the author, whose name escapes me. I met him at Drysdale River station. I think his name is Graham Walsh. We have a vast amount of archaeological information in this State, the surface of which has barely scratched. We do not have available, credible archaeology faculty in this State. I believe UWA has badly let down Western Australia.
My frustration with this issue has resulted in my writing a letter to the Standing Committee on Government Agencies to try to interest it in examining some of the matters associated with this archaeology affair. Following my letter, I gave evidence to the committee. The issue is in the committee's hands because it is up to committee members to decided what to do. The matter should be put in the public arena. I urge members of this House to take an interest because it goes to the heart of how our universities are run. Universities should be autonomous but at the same time they should be accountable. Because the University of Western Australia Act is a Statue of this House, we have an obligation to ensure that the university is properly managed and complies with any state legislative requirements.
I will briefly run through some of the details of the matter. At the end of my speech I will table a number of documents from which I will quote. It is important that the documents are placed into the public domain. Names have been obliterated from some of the documents where they contain sensitive personal information. In 1988 Dr David Rindos was vigorously recruited to the University of Western Australia. He was offered a senior position. Professor Sandra Bowdler was then the head of department of archaeology. She praised him in a letter saying that they very lucky to be able to get him." Dr Rindos arrived about mid-June 1989. Four years later he was sacked by the very University which had worked so hard to get him there. His reputation, his good name, and his abilities have been attacked public statements from the University. The question I ask is: How could this occur?
About six months after Dr Rindos arrived he became the acting head of the archaeology department. As the acting head he was bound by University regulations governing heads of departments, by the policy on equity issues, and by a Statutes of this Parliament -- the University of Western Australia Act. Those requirements exist to ensure that the affairs of his department were conducted properly and legally. They are Statutes and regulations that no head of department can ignore. Under those obligations, Dr Rindos was required to inform the University of any possible irregularities. His dedication to properly carrying out his role properly as acting head of archaeology was to bring him nothing but trouble, and the eventual loss of his position.
As the acting head of the department Dr Rindos received numerous complaints about unprofessional behaviour within the department which had led to direct harm to students working within that department. When Dr Rindos approached Professor Bowdler to discuss the problems, he was rebuffed. This occurred on more than one occasion. Later he attempted to invoke dispute resolution procedures of the university. Professor Bowdler publicly attacked him, claiming there was no dispute and that Dr Rindos had to "learn to obey." Soon afterwards Dr Rindos found himself shunned, harassed and victimized in the same way as the students who had motivated his concern had been harassed and victimised.
Dr Rindos reported to the Head of Division, Professor Charles Oxnard, a world-renowned scholar and an administrator of great experience. I have met and spoken to Professor Oxnard. He is a man who impresses me with his thoroughness and restrained exposition of events as he saw them. He does not resort to embellishment or exaggeration to get effect, but simply applies an objective clinical analysis of the facts. He is an impressive man. Under the structure which has existed since I was at the University of Western Australia, different department come under a division. He was not directly in the archaeology department, but was responsible for a number of department in each division.
In 1990, Dr Rindos presented Professor Oxnard with a written summary of problems. However, like so many documents connected to the archaeology affair at UWA, this has disappeared from university files. Professor Oxnard was already aware of the problems in archaeology, and also believed that Bowdler was carrying out a plan to get rid of Dr Rindos because he refused to collaborate with this culture of corruption and intimidation that was entrenched in the archaeology department. Professor Oxnard directed Dr Rindos to report to the Equity Office about the conditions in the department. The equity office used to be an autonomous office. Since this affair blew up it has been subsumed into the direct control of the vice chancellor. Dr Rindos was privately warned by the Equity Officer, Ms Marie Osman, about "close personal ties" between Professor Bowdler and the university's Vice Chancellor, Professor Fay Gale. Professor Oxnard also sent Rindos to see Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Robert Parfitt. I have spoken to Professor Parfitt about this matter. He firmly supports the position of Dr David Rindos. Professor Parfitt is now based in England. He is also a well-known scholar and has extensive experience in university, government and business administration.
Professor Parfitt had also conducted some inquiries. He knew of the problems, and confirmed that Dr Rindos had acted properly in keeping with his duties as an acting head of department. He believed Dr Rindos was acting in the best interests of the University and its students by reporting the matters that were drawn to his attention -- the matters that Professor Bowdler refused to rectify. Professor Oxnard and Deputy vice chancellor Parfitt took steps to rectify the problems problems that they knew were occurring in the archaeology department. In early 1991, Dr Rindos and several postgraduate students, all female, were formally transferred to the geography department for protection from Professor Bowdler and her followers. The move was done with the full approval of the equity office and university administrators, including Vice Chancellor Gale. Dr Rindos' students were given extraordinary extensions to scholarships and were even funded by the University to make up for the poor academic conditions they had previously suffered. By this action the the university confirmed that victimisation existed and that it had interfered with the proper academic progress of the students. The university bore the costs of the move. All the reports that I can garner indicate that the move of those student to the geography department was a total success.
[Sitting suspended from 12.30 to 2.00 pm]
Hon MARK NEVILL: By the end of 1991, the responsible administrators who had arranged this solution left their positions at the University of Western Australia; that is, Professor Moulden [sic=Oxnard] and Professor Parfitt. After they had left the university Dr Rindos was to be removed from his new-found safety in the geography department. In my opinion this was the first step by the university to get rid of this whistle-blower.
The next event that occurred was the review of the archaeology department . That was the major response of the university to complaints about the archaeology department. Its task was to carry out a formal review of conditions in the department. The report of the committee is among the papers that I will seek to table at the end of my speech, and was made public via a freedom of information application after access was refused.
The committee of review comprised Dr Neville Bruce and Professor Moulden and it received information from more than 40 people including students, staff and administrators. It also received a dozen unsolicited written submissions. The committee received a full report from Professor Bowdler, surveyed the students in the department, and considered all of the documents that were available on the university files. The review committee concluded that overwhelming evidence existed of longstanding problems in the archaeology department, problems that constituted a threat to everything that a University should stand for, and problems that needed correction or action taken for the sake of the University itself. The Committee finished its Report in December 1991..
The report made 12 recommendations, the first three stating --Subsequent to that, none of these recommendations were properly implemented nor fully carried out by the University. Given the magnitude, and exceedingly sensitive nature of the problems that were discovered, confidential memoranda were circulated with that report by the committee. These memoranda contained greater detail than was in the report. I will I quote at length from one so you may appreciate the findings that were reported to the administrators at the University of Western Australia. It states --
that the Vice-Chancellor investigates, as a matter of priority, the management practices in the Department.
that the Vice-Chancellor resolves the division that have developed, within the Department.
that the Vice-Chancellor, in conjunction with the Equity Officer, investigates purportedly inequitable behavior within the Department.
In the course of our Academic Review certain matters were forced upon our attention. These consisted of a number of serious allegations. Given that we had only the normal resources available to any Academic Review panel, it will be clear that we had neither the skills nor the time nor the facilities to investigate these allegations in depth, nor to evaluate each one in detail We therefore emphasise that we cannot adjudicate upon the truth or otherwise of the allegations, and it was not possible in terms of either or schedule or our remit to attempt to prove or disprove them. Nevertheless, the allegations were sufficiently grave, sufficiently numerous, sufficiently consistent and potentially sufficiently damaging to the ideals and the reputation of this University that we could not as individuals ignore them and feel that the University as an institution likewise cannot afford to ignore them.That memorandum was written by Professor Neville Bruce and Professor Bernand Moulden. It goes on to state --
The essence of what we are saying is this: We have formed the impression that there are sufficient grounds for concern to suggest that the allegations be investigated by a properly constituted body of enquiry. In our view this is of immediate importance for at least three reasons: firstly, if any one of them proved to be true then urgent and vigorous action would, we feel, be necessary. Secondly, they are of sufficiently wide currency to be in themselves damaging to individuals and the institution.
Most of the verbal and written allegations received related to three issues.Part 2 of that document, which contains Professor Bruce's summary and which I will table, states --
(1) It was alleged that a number of graduate and undergraduate students had had sexual relations with a member of staff [they refer here to Professor Sandra Bowdler] and that this had been followed by favoured treatment of some (for example, in terms of grants and jobs within the Department) and apparent victimisation of others (including public ridicule and denial of fair opportunity).
(2) It was alleged that an environment had been fostered in which cynicism and ridicule were used to promote certain theoretic approaches and denigrate others, and that this stultified free academic exchange, damaged academic reputations and integrity, and ultimately severely retarded academic growth, particularly of some promising postgraduate students.
(3) Because the Director of the Centre of Prehistory has an influential position on a number of relevant committees outside the University, there was alleged to be a conflict of interest regarding the University's involvement in commercial archaeology. We were told that this could damage both the university's reputation and its finances.
The academic environment in the Department, in terms of equity,freedom of expression, impartiality, abuse of power and general management, appeared to be appalling.The Review Committee called for a formal Committee of Inquiry. Everyone who had appeared before the Committee was asked to provide legally admissible letters of evidence. I will table some of those letters as part of these documents, of course with the names of the authors expunged. These letters prove conditions in archaeology constituted a scandal without precedent in the history of Australian Higher Education, and one which was to be covered up rather than corrected.
I will now go through some of the testimony given to that review. The first area of testimony relates to sexual involvements and discrimination. Grave concern was raised by evidence indicating a long series of sexual involvements between Prof Bowdler and her female students. Professor Bowdler had secured grants and jobs for her girlfriends at the expense of other students. Other women were victimised, at times for not accepting her advances, and at other times for having ended the relationship.
I will now quote from some of the evidence of those students. One female studying Prehistory 200 stated --
During a field trip, Professor Bowdler made sexual advances towards me. Being immature and flattered I became involved in a sexual relationship with her. Within one month I realised the predicament I had placed myself in, but feared that if I left Professor Bowdler she would somehow destroy my career in archaeology. I believe that over the past three years she has attempted to do this. In 1986 I was forced to leave my family and the University in order to get away from Professor Bowdler."Another letter from a student states --
Professor Bowdler . .. appears to treat at least some students as a potential sexual resource."Another PhD student wrote as follows --
The propriety of hiring Dr O'Connor at all could be questioned since it was generally believed that she has been professor Bowdler's lover in the past. It seemed to me there is still a degree of attachment between them, despite Dr O'Connor's marriage.Dr O'Connor married Peter Veth, who ran the Centre for Prehistory in 1991. The evidence continues --
One of the most unpleasant aspects of Professor Bowdler's apparent preference for hiring her own students and/or women with whom she is thought to have had sexual relations was that one began to question the underling motives for every appointment.Another student stated --
Professor Bowdler is a predator who preys on young female students. It is an absolute disgrace that the University of Western Australia employed such a person as well as allowing such blatant power abuse to persist for nearly a decade.The majority of these statements have been made by young female students. Another submission refers to a field trip to the Fitzgerald National Park involving 13 volunteers, most of whom were in their late teens or early twenties, and it states --
[Bowdler] and her lover, an archaeology student, had a very audible argument that began late one evening and continued upon about 5:00 am the next morning. There was much screaming and wailing, and as we were all in nearby tents nobody got any sleep. Some people were leaving for Perth that morning, an eight hour drive, and some stayed on for further work. Either way, a good night's sleep was paramount to everyone's well-being. I was alarmed that this situation could arise, particularly when so many young people were present. I expected the head of department to provide a more responsible attitude. This incident made everyone feel uncomfortable and left a bad taste. No apology was ever proffered.That evidence was corroborated in other letters. Further evidence was given by another student to the archaeology review as follows --
During my Honours year Professor Bowdler became hostile towards me and refused to speak to me unless absolutely necessary. This was a major problem as she was my supervisor. The reasons for such behaviour , according to my fellow students in the inner circle is that I was not nice to C. Pocock, my ... fellow Honours student and Professor Bowdler's lover. . . . I was not alone in being rejected as of the other three honours graduates from 1988 only C Pocock was successful in obtaining work as a consultant as well as obtaining regular work as a part-time research assistant for Professor Bowdler.The letter continues --
Professor Bowdler's professional conduct is often wanting on field trips. One particular dramatic example that left all with an unpleasant taste was on fieldwork one summer when 1st, 2nd and 3rd years witnessed an ugly lover's dispute between Professor Sandra Bowdler and C Pocock, using an innocent 1st year male student to incite jealousy between the main antagonists. In short, C Pocock played with the genitals of a male 1st year student. Professor Bowdler and a few of the others seated away from the camp table were aware of events occurring under the table. Much screaming, yelling, crying eventuated and continued through the night. The male student thought it was in his best interests not to return to archaeology the following year.That letter corroborates a previous letter that I read to members, in the event they think this sort of stuff is being dreamt up by people.
Hon Sam Piantadosi: Hands under the table.
Hon Derrick Tomlinson: The problem is that that material has been around the university for a long time and while they dealt with Professor Bowdler it has not done anything to advance the case of Dr Rindos.
Hon MARK NEVILL: Exactly, and it is not clear whether the university has dealt sufficiently with Professor Bowdler. The department of archaeology has been dissolved.
Hon Derrick Tomlinson: It never was a department, it was a special sinecure established for her.
Hon Sam Piantadosi: Hands under the table.
Hon MARK NEVILL: That does not surprise me. She then went to work in the anthropology department. However, I understand that she works at the opposite end of the university from the anthropology department. She is still on her original salary and retains most, if not all, of the benefits that she has received before this, and Dr Rindos has been most unceremoniously given the flick to solve a problem for management. Hon Derrick Tomlinson: Even her right to call herself an archaeologist cam into question.
Hon MARK NEVILL: That is true, and I am reluctant to jump to conclusions. However, this same professor has a history of the same behaviour at the University of New England, where she was denied tenure, yet she came to the University of Western Australia and had a mini department set up for her benefit. A final quote is a letter to Dr Rindos from a student while Dr Rindos was in the geography department in 1991. A copy of this letter was sent to Professor Gale and to two other academics at the university. It states --
I contacted Ms D---- because, like myself, she is an ex-student-girlfriend of Professor Bowdler and warned me at length about possible hostilities from Professor Bowdler.That is the sort of tyranny that was in place in this institution. The review committee also indicated that male students were discriminated against, and there were fewer male students in that department.
Hon Derrick Tomlinson: They did not go on any camps anyway.
Hon MARK NEVILL: Probably not. The Vice Chancellor, Professor Gale, in discussions with me quite flippantly dismissed as consensual the succession of affairs with undergraduate students indulged in by Professor Bowdler. I take a very different view. I do not see any difference between the way doctors must treat their patients and university professors should treat their students.
Hon Derrick Tomlinson: There have been celebrated cases of male professor being discharged from universities for the very same behaviour, though more of a heterosexual than a homosexual nature.
Hon MARK NEVILL: Hon Derrick Tomlinson raises an interesting point. If this conduct had been indulged in by a male a the University of WA, there would have been a different result. I am shocked that the vice chancellor believes that power-contaminated sexual relationships can be so casually dismissed as consensual.
Hon E. J. Charlton: Does the member think that she did not want to do it personally, or do you think there is pressure in our society that one should not look sideways or criticise anything to do with these women in society, who seem to be able to do what they like?
Hon MARK NEVILL: I will not respond to that comment. However, to condone such behaviour is to blame the student-victim. The vice chancellor's attitude is unacceptable. She owes an apology, at least to the parents of this State who have sent their sons and daughters to her care at that university. She owes an apology to all feminists who hold that gender is no excuse for improper behaviour; and she owes an apology to the many students who have been sexually or otherwise victimised at the hands of a professor who is still in her employ.
Hon Derrick Tomlinson interjected.
Hon MARK NEVILL: Exactly. Hon Derrick Tomlinson has anticipated the next part of my comments. I believe that Professor Bowdler has been protected by the vice chancellor. Hon E. J. Charlton: Just by the vice chancellor?
Hon MARK NEVILL: The vice chancellor has a fairly big hand in how the university is run. Professor Bowdler has been effectively protected by the vice chancellor, for reasons which I do not know, but it is certainly against all of the proper advice which the vice chancellor has received.
The next area is the one to which Hon Derrick Tomlinson alluded; that is academic freedom. In that department there was certainly intellectual oppression. There was also a lack of due process. The review committee found that Professor Bowdler and her followers had instituted a reign of intellectual oppression, encouraging and participating in the public ridicule of students whose opinions were found politically, or otherwise, unacceptable to them. I turn now to an attachment to to the letter of Dr Neville Burce and Professor Bernard Moulden, headed "Notes From an Analysis of a Survey of Archaeology Graduates." They received 16 replies from a total of 24 gradates who had completed a major in archaeology. The document states, under the heading "Quotes"-
Active hostility ie refusal to receive work and pass/fail markings without comment is very had to bear and impossible to address when such a power imbalance exits.These are some examples of intellectual oppression which was occurring in that department; the lack of academic freedom which is essential for any department or faculty to operate effectively. There was also a disgraceful lack of due process in the administrative dealings of the department. Decisions relating to the allocation of academic and intellectual resources, were made to serve non-academic ends, and the process of administration became subverted to the ends of harassment and abuse. A document which was sent to the review of archaeology states --
There were however, more insidious and widespread problems relating to the freedom of thought, fairness of marking the involvement of undergraduates in intra-departmental politics. . . .
Animosity reflected . . . to many students and staff pervaded whole course and thus made survival difficult and tainted anything positive about the course.
. . . Worst things about the course were witnessing some people's humiliation and ostracism in lectures, tutorials and field trips."
. .. this oppressive behaviour is clearly unprofessional and not acceptable in the university community or indeed the wider social community!
At times lectures and courses were taking on the mantle of propaganda where the ideas of others were not considered in an analytical sense but ridiculed by defaming the individuals who espoused any ideas incongruent to their own.
Throughout the years of study I constantly witnessed other students, staff, academics from UWA, Museum colleagues and others being ridiculed, treated unfairly, or ostracised by Professor Bowdler and her followers.A letter from Professor Sylvia Hallam, the former head of the department,to the Vice Chancellor, Professor Gale, states --
Scorn for views with which [Professor Bowdler] did not agree, often delivered in a scathing manner, could reduce a student to a quivering wreck. Scorn is no substitute for reasoned presentation of alternative views.A document from another PhD student states --
Scorn for academic values and scorn for people outside of small inner coterie have replaced love of learning and respect for individuals."
Professor Bowdler appeared to show extreme favouritism and prejudice in her treatment of not only departmental members but also colleagues and others in the community at large. She frequently expressed contempt for practically every other archaeologist in Australia. She had nothing good to say about Syliva Hallam or Charles Amsden, indeed she positively boasted to me that she was going to 'get rid' of both of them. She also boasted to me she had got herself appointed to every committee that mattered in WA so that no Archaeology could be carried out of which she did not approve. It seemed to me that Dr Veth copied her attitude when he ran the Centre of Prehistory. In my hearing he frequently expressed a desire to drive other consultancy firms out of business. It is doubtful if anyone should ever has that much power. Professor Bowdler's overt policy of criticism by character assassination seemed to be copied by those departmental members who wished to curry favour with her.The next quote from my notes reads --
Personal harassment and systematic attacks upon individuals seem to have become accepted within the Department and they appear to have been used to manipulate students and staff.A further quote reads --
Students. . .. are in an uncomfortable situation wherein if they do not support and actively carry out ostracism and discrimination . . . they will be pushed out of the inner group and therefore lose present and future study and job opportunities and become ostracised themselves.Another quote reads --
Academic freedom either does not exist, or, if it does exist, is considered to be unimportant in comparison to the need to control and manipulate students and staff.Another submission reads --
Ten years is a long time for one person at whim to destroy the future prospects, personalities and integrity of so many.Those campaigns of abuse and victimisation obviously succeeded in creating an atmosphere of fear. The review committee wrote --
A number of staff and students who made depositions to our committee expressed fear of retribution and indicated that other ex students would have made depositions if they could have been assured of protection."The fears of these students were well-placed, as was sadly admitted one year later by the Convenor of the Committee, Professor Bruce who wrote in a public letter --
". . . students put their faith in our committee in the hope that major problems within . . . archaeology . . . would be resolved. They now believe, with justification, that their faith was to a large extent misplaced . . . . deliberately damaging activities . .described to the committee during the review process --
are still being indulged by members of the original department. . . . I believe that this University must do more to stop such travesties of academic behaviour."There is evidence that the department's finances were handled improperly. A retired member of the department wrote --
Budget matters were never discussed. Even staff did not know the amount of the research budget or how it had been allocated. . . . No available records were kept to . . . to judge where the money went."It appears that Professor Bowdler allocated most of the department's research funds to herself. She also took personal loans from the department. A full and detailed audit of Departmental books, including those of the Centre for Prehistory. This must be conducted as a matter of urgency.
There were also reports of conflict of interest within the department. They involved Professor Bowdler's involvement when she sat upon the Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee under the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority Act. As a member of that committee she was involved in setting standards for and reviewing such work. Allegations of interference with the work of independent anthropologists and archaeologists abounded. The Committee reported --
Archaeologists practising in Western Australia claimed that members of this University followed discriminatory practices or had instigated means to effectively disenfranchise them from practising their profession.That was at a time when Professor Bowdler ran the Centre of Prehistory and when she was doing consultancy work for profit. She was in a position where she could control what outside anthropologists were doing by charging exorbitant fees for access to the anthropology library and through other mechanisms.
Following the review of archaeology, a second review was undertaken which is commonly known as the Hotop Clyde report. Despite a number of FOI applications, that report has never been released. I understand that it is only three pages long. Early in 1992 the University produced several press releases as a result of which the archaeology affair began to be reported. Professor Bowdler stood down as head of department, at least in name, and the highly politicised and profit-making Centre for Prehistory was dissolved. The Centre for Prehistory was actually involved in the Yakabindie dispute. I have quite a bit of evidence of the unprofessional work undertaken in that area.
Hon Derrick Tomlinson: The information may discredit Professor Bowdler, but it does not advance the case of Dr Rindos.
Hon MARK NEVILL: The problem is that Dr Rindos has had ever door closed in his face. His files have been lost. There has been a deliberate attempt to exclude him from access to university documents. On the other hand, the other person who has a history of similar behaviour at the University of New England, in a prior appointment, is apparently being protected against the good advice given to the Vice Chancellor by many other people.
Dr Rindos applied to the Industrial Relations Commission to have his matter dealt with there. After a year's deliberation, the commissioner who heard the case brought down a finding that it was not within the commission's jurisdiction. The only avenue open to Dr Rindos now is to the visitor. As part of the Vice Chancellor's committee, Professor Gale had called for an end to the Visitor, except when she did not want the matter dealt with by the Industrial Relations Commission. She then urged for it to be dealt with by the visitor, who is a person nominated under the University of Western Australia Act as the Governor or person appointed by him. As some members will be aware ,there are ecclesiastic connotations from the Middle Ages.
Hon Derrick Tomlinson interjected.
Hon MARK NEVILL: Exactly. However, I am not sure whether the visitor is an appropriate person to undertake that kind of inquiry.
Hon Derrick Tomlinson: There is no other person.
Hon MARK NEVILL: That is correct. However, I understand that in almost all cases, the visitor comes down on the side of the university.
Hon Derrick Tomlinson: That is why Professor Gale's position is less secure. The visitor will come down on the side of the university.
Hon MARK NEVILL: Yes. Very powerful establishment forces are at work and I use the term "establishment" in its pure sense. Heaven help anyone who rocks the establishment in our democracy. Heaven help Dr David Rindos.
Hon Derrick Tomlinson interjected.
Hon MARK NEVILL: Exactly., I had reached the point at which Professor Bowdler stood down as head of the department, at least in name, and she stood down while the Centre of Prehistory was dissolved. Professor Gale announced she had asked Associate Professor Hotop and Professor Clyde to advise what action should be taken regarding the inequities discovered in archaeology. Following receipt of the Hotop-Clyde report, Professor Gale dissolved archaeology as a department. She promised another review of conditions in December 1994. This was cancelled by executive fiat -- it never occurred.
As a result of the answers to questions that I asked of Hon Norman Moore, it is possible that the university has misled Parliament on the Hotop-Clyde report. If the Standing Committee on Government Agencies is interested in the issue, I hope that they subpoena that report to determine the question. The answers said that the Hotop-Clyde report did not relate to the same manners as the review of archaeology. I find that very difficult to accept. It also contradicted earlier public statements.
We know that the Hotop Clyde Report dealt with Professor Bowdler's misbehaviour. Dr David Rindos applied for a copy of the report under freedom of information provisions but was refused. I then applied for it because I suspected that the Hotop-Clyde report did not actually deal with Dr Rindos and that therefore his chance of getting access on the basis that it involved him were lessened. For one reason or another, my attempts came to nothing. The fact that report does not appear to deal with Dr Rindos confirms, at least by implication, that Dr Rindos has done nothing wrong, yet Professor Bowdler was retained and Dr Rindos was sacked.
I now refer to the defamation campaign that was launched against Dr Rindos. Members of archaeology, most likely in reaction to both the complaints which had led to the review committee and the protection given Dr Rindos and the other students, retaliated with what was to turn into a prolonged and ultimately successful campaign against him. Professor Bowdler claimed that problems uncovered during the Review of Archaeology were the fault of Dr Rindos. She claims that no problems ever existed and that Dr Rindos invented and directed a campaign against her -- that she was the actual victim. That was quite a turnaround.
A copy of Professor Rindos' [sic=Bowdler's] complaints about the review committee was eventually forwarded to its members. The review committee pointed out that all problems predated Dr Rindos' arrival. They review committee repudiated Professor Bowdler's allegations that Dr Rindos was in any way incompetent or that he had created any sort of campaign against her. I would like to discover why the University chose to believe Professor Bowdler, whose self-interest is obvious, rather than the objective judgment of properly constituted Committees. A fatal flaw must exist in the university's decision making processes.
I now refer to the denial of Dr Rindos' tenure, which the university claimed has nothing to do with the problems in archaeology. It is extraordinary. He is the only person to be denied tenure at UWA. Dr Rindos should have had his tenure confirmed in June 1992. All reports on his performance had been positive, and therefore tenure should have been granted, as had always been the case at UWA. Instead of being granted tenure his probation was extended. For the next 18 months Rindos was forced to produce one long report after another, while university administrators searched for an excuse to get rid of him.
Further delays were occasioned by putting Dr Rindos through more formal hearings on contrived charges originating in Archaeology. He had to answer formal charges of pornography mongering for which no absolutely evidence existed. He also had to answer a charge of sexual harassment. This charge was manufactured by Dr Partis out of letters written by three women in the archaeology department. The letters complained about the press reports hinting at Professor Bowdler's long-standing sexual involvements. They only secondarily concerned Dr Rindos and contained no allegations whatsoever of sexual harassment as normally understood. Both Dr Partis and Professor Gale gossiped about these charges to totally unconcerned parties, including students. That breaches university regulations. The charges were then dropped. This might have been expected given the fact that the letter's authors are female and Dr Rindos is homosexual, a fact unfavourably commented upon by Dr Partis.
Hon Derrick Tomlinson: What was Dr Partis' position at that time?
Hon MARK NEVILL: I cannot recall because of the myriad titles of people in management, but he subsequently left the university and has presided over the State Education Authority for the past year.
The making public of this matter of Dr Rindos' personal life likely provided one motivation for laying the charges. Nobody should have to be put through such a malicious making public of matters of one's personal life. I wonder how certain "closeted" high administrators at UWA would feel were this done to them.
Hon Derrick Tomlinson: That is the problem. Professor Bowdler's sexual predilections were used against her quite systematically to destroy her. Similarly, Dr Rindos' sexual predilections were used against him. What is the difference, other than gender?
Hon MARK NEVILL: There is a big difference, because there is no evidence that Dr Rindos was systematically exploiting students within his department.
Hon Derrick Tomlinson: That is the important thing.
Hon MARK NEVILL: Yes, and there was with Professor Bowdler, and there is a history of that at the University of New England as well. It is not something that has happened in recent times. The many false and defamatory documents originating in Professor Bowdler's department were hidden in a secret file. Internal memoranda unambiguously state that first, the letters were hidden to ensure that Dr Rindos would not become aware of the charges brought against him; secondly, that the hiding the documents was totally against all university regulations; and, thirdly, the documents were considered relevant evidence for denying him tenure.
In about August or September 1992 Dr Partis recommended that Rindos be sacked because he had "destabilised" archaeology by making conditions known, and that he had not shown proper respect for Professor Bowdler's authority. Dr Partis is a close friend of Professor Bowdler. Given advice that tenure could not be denied for the bizarre, unproven and non-academic reasons, a special committee was created to invent reasons to sack Dr Rindos.
In February 1993, that committee recommended Rindos be sacked for alleged poor academic performance. They accepted Partis' reports. Professor Robson invented the academic reason to sack Dr Rindos by making claiming that he believed Dr Rindos had not been as productive as some other people who had been granted tenure. The review committee confirmed that Dr Rindos highly productive in all of his previous postings. They acknowledged the harassment he suffered and claimed they could not make a judgement on this matter. The University now falsely claims publicly, and in advice presented to Parliament, that the Committee ruled that all fault was with Dr Rindos. I have tabled a copy of the statutory declaration Dr Rindos prepared on his treatment at the hands of the university. It is a damning report. In brief, Dr Rindos was never made aware of the charges brought against him nor was he given any opportunity to answer them. Instead, a hidden case, based upon false and malicious evidence, and adjudicated in secret proceedings, was used to convict him.
Several months ago, the Freedom of Information Commissioner released to Dr Rindos numerous documents on the grounds that the university could produce no evidence of official concern about poor performance or counselling given him for it. How can one be sacked for something which has never been recorded in official files? As news of Dr Rindos' problems became known, complaints about the university's action began to pour into the Vice-Chancellory from the most eminent archaeologists both from Australia and around the world. When two other departments at UWA indicated their willingness to take Dr Rindos on as a tenured member of staff, Vice-Chancellor Gale prevented it by demanding the impossible -- that they fund Dr Rindos out of their existing budgets. They then said that those departments did not want Dr Rindos. They did not want him because no money was provided for him to move.
The Vice-Chancellor verged on blackmail by threatening if Dr Rindos accepted a proposed payout, she would announce his leaving so as not to harm his good name and reputation. Why would the University offer a pay-out of almost $200,000 if it believed the case against him was as strong as they now pretend? In her letter of sacking of June 1993, Vice-Chancellor Gale provided additional reasons for dismissing him: Her personal reason for sacking him was that Dr Rindos had been unable to get along with Professor Bowdler. Dr Rindos, after being the first person to stand up to the culture of corruption in archaeology also became the first person ever to be denied tenure at UWA. I believe this Parliament has a responsibility to ensure that the legislation that it has created is effectively complied with. This is a major scandal that has done immense damage to our State. The hierarchy at UWA has turned a blind eye to the fact that the problem is ongoing. If we can do anything to undo the damage already done, we should do it. The Minister for Education said last year that he was powerless to obtain answers to questions put to him regarding improper behaviour of a Government Agency. I believe it is important that this whole coverup be exposed and the fraudulent attack on the good name of Dr Rindos be also exposed. He has been set up as a scapegoat for the problems in archaeology and his denial of tenure is the ultimate insult. I seek leave to table documents in support of the comments that I have made.
Leave granted. [See paper No 1064.]
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