The Australian, Perth

  • 15 January 1997

    Rindos probe finds past inadequacies
    By Ross Storey

    A University of Western Australia senate committee has concluded its investigations into the seven-year long Rindos archaeology affair and identified inadequacies in some procedures that existed at the time.

    The report, handed to the UWA senate this week, found however, that the university had addressed the inadequacies in an ongoing review of the management processes, and supported Professor Fay Gale's actions.

    It concluded that once Professor Gale directly intervened, she set in train processes that ensured professional judgments were made that were consistent with the university's policies and procedures.

    The investigation also found that since the time of the events, UWA's policies and procedures had been improved and upgraded.

    Complaints procedures and guidelines for supervision and conduct in the workplace had also been addressed.

    Because of intense media speculation about the Rindos archaeology affair, the committee was appointed in February last year to carry out a fresh investigation of past events in UWA's former archaeology department and the refusal of tenure to archaeologist Dr David Rindos, who died in December from a heart attack.

    The committee's establishment came after claims, made under parliamentary privilege in the West Australian Legislative Council, that Rindos had been treated unfairly.

    West Australian Labor MLC Mark Nevill, a long-time critic of the university's role in the affair, told Parliament at the time that it was a scandal without precedent in the history of higher education in Australian, and one that was being covered up rather than corrected.

    Mr Irwin Barrett-Lennard led the committee, which included Justice Robert Nicholson, Mrs June Jones, and Dr Jim Gill.

    Acting UWA vice-chancellor Professor Alan Robson said the administration welcomed the findings of the report.

    Professor Robson said it vindicated the consistent position of the university that due process was adhered to by senior management.

    The university would act on the report's valuable recommendations on human resource management, training and staff induction.

    "It is pleasing to note the committee's recognition that since the period in question, the university's policies and procedures have been enhanced and augmented," Professor Robson said. "It is the intention op the university to regularly report to senate on progress in dealing with recommendations."

    The West Australian parliamentary inquiry into the affair is expected to resume in March with the opening of the year's first parliamentary session.