An Alliance of Bullies


Revelations of an entrenched culture of workplace bullying at the National LGBTI Health Alliance throw further doubt on the organisations chances of survival.

Although researcher Gavi Ansara stated publicly that his resignation was due to funding uncertainty and his new job, sources say he left due to bullying and corruption. Ansara was contacted by the stirrer but did not wish to comment.

A source told the stirrer that bullying in the Alliance offices was rife, alleging that many people have ended up in psychiatric care as a result. No-one was willing to go on the record with details, however. In view of other information provided to the stirrer, this is unsurprising.

For example, at least one employee was allegedly stood over by management recently and forced to sign a legal agreement not to speak to the press, or anyone else. No wonder the director was reluctant to endorse the introduction of a mandatory anti-bullying program in schools.

Other signs of entrenched poor management include the failure to present a budget. In correspondence seen by the stirrer, a director complained “9 months into the new financial year and we have yet to see or discuss the budget”.

Chair Susan Ditter responded by describing this failure as “an oversight.”

Security is also lax. The PIN for board teleconferences went unchanged for months. It was the same dial-in number and PIN used for the Alliance AGM, when it was circulated widely to member organisations whose representatives could not attend in person.

Because of the extreme difficulty of discovery what was actually happening inside the Alliance, the stirrer understands that some of these member organisations may have been using this eavesdropping facility to keep tabs on Alliance deliberations, and formulate their plans accordingly.

It would appear that it wouldn’t have done them much good. Management appears to have routinely kept the Board in the dark. In correspondence shown to the stirrer, several directors complained of incompetence, poor governance and management, a lack of engagement with client organisations, and of being excluded from policy development and decisions.

It has been suggested that in the current febrile climate, with a possible messy and abusive plebiscite on the horizon, and a noisy and nasty campaign against the Safe Schools coalition by the loony religious right, the stirrer should “go easy” on the Alliance, and “back off for the good of the community”.

This is disturbingly similar to the arguments made by Roman Catholic apologists, which allowed child abusers to flourish unchecked for so long.

“Don’t you breathe a word of what Father McGonigal did to you in the sacristy, Jimmy: if it got out, it could damage the church.”

LGBTI organisations must be held to the highest possible standards, and failings must be publicised, otherwise bullying and corruption will likewise flourish unchecked.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)