The facts? Maybe we should just twist ’em or leave ’em out

The facts? Maybe we should just twist ’em or leave ’em out

The police were quick to interview the murderer and a witness (Z, his girlfriend) present at the scene on the night in question. They determined the reason for Michael’s presence at the unit, which fitted in perfectly with his job description. He was responsible for Z who was a patient at the Refuge where he was working his shift that night. He brought her medication but at the same time, asked if she wanted to return to the refuge. This information was very quickly disseminated within the On Track Community Programs workplace and to myself.

Plain simple facts – he was doing his job. Should he have chosen not to bring the medication to Z or look in on her welfare, there was the likelihood he would have been disciplined for failing to carry out his duty by ensuring the well-being of Z and ensuring she received her medication.

However, the knowledge made available by the police to On Track Community Programs was absent in the statements to WorkCover by both the Lismore Manager and the CEO regarding Michael’s visit to the unit. A murder occurring at a workplace would look extraordinarily bad for the organisation, especially if the victim was simply doing his job. There was a definite potential it would reflect negligence in adherence to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

But whatever the reasons for the failure on the part of the Lismore Manager and the CEO to provide WorkCover with information gathered by the police is open to speculation. The persistent line from the management to staff members was simply that he should not have gone to the unit. It was a line that had managed to find its way into the community as well and it is suspected that this was actively carried out. In a written statement provided and signed by the CEO of On Track Community Programs to WorkCover, the following points were made:

  • He apparently hadn’t used the company car. From this, one can only conclude that the registration details of the vehicle would have saved him even though during the time of the murder, Michael was not in the car but at the unit of the perpetrator. Perhaps I may be ignorant about the capabilities of the On Track Community Programs registered Toyota Corolla, but there could be the chance that the car was kitted out by the makers of 007 Bond vehicles?
  • He went after hours. Well of course, we all know that Mental Health patients are more violent after 5pm and really, no one should be in contact with them after this time.
  • He apparently hadn’t written down his movements on a white board locked away in the staff room. Of course if he did and was in trouble, that information would have been telepathically received by anyone at the Refuge (or elsewhere in the city for that matter) and they would have been able to speed to the location to enact a heroic rescue. Maybe Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman or all three might have been in town that night.

So, the above is what a CEO of an organisation comes up with, then makes a signed declaration that she had no idea why he was there. Perhaps she genuinely did not know. It can however be granted that the circumstances are difficult to prove beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law. Unfortunately, as both David and the witness were both mental health patients, their testimony in spite of the matching information, are not admissible. This does provide a loophole for On Track Community Programs to declare that the reasons for Michael’s presence at the unit were unknown.

The branch manager in Lismore decided she would take the path of stating that he was involved in “cross program interaction”, which was apparently a big “no no”, in her claim to WorkCover. Except that the Lismore Manager had forgotten that cross program interaction was in fact an encouraged activity that occurred on a highly regular basis. She had also forgotten that she had herself caused stress to Michael by tasking him to simultaneously work his job and that of an absent colleague from a different program only weeks earlier. The CEO herself submitted a report that indicated cross-program interaction occurred on the day of the murder by another colleague. More can be read about the Lismore Manager’s declarations of documented (but not written) policy regarding so called cross-program interactions here.

It has since been noted by the Industrial Court that evidenced from numerous On Track case notes, the work regularly performed by the employees often involved an intermingling of both clients and work between the HASI program and The Refuge and Michael did not have any strictly defined roles working exclusively as a HASI worker or a Refuge worker.

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