25 July 2012

The University of Queensland (UQ) today rejected a media report attempting to link the departure of the former Director of Assurance and Risk Management Services (ARMS), Mr Phil Procopis from the University, to his role in communicating information in relation to the admission irregularity that led to the resignations of UQ’s two most senior staff in December 2011.

UQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry said the media report was both incorrect and misleading.

“Mr Procopis was not the originator of the information or the whistleblower. Another staff member, who remains protected under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010, provided the information to Mr Procopis.

"The person is still employed by the University and we will not disclose their identity,” Professor Terry said.

“It was a formal part of Mr Procopis’ role as Director of ARMS to be a receiver for disclosures of this nature and to communicate such matters to the Chancellor.

“There is absolutely no link between Mr Procopis’ initial role in this matter and the review and reorganisation of ARMS.”

Professor Terry said planning for the ARMS review occurred in early 2011 before the Chancellor received information about an irregular admission.

“The University regularly reviews all business areas and the ARMS review was part of a scheduled process.

"In August 2011, the review panel was appointed, and its terms of reference were agreed. The review was chaired by an independent interstate expert on auditing and risk management,” she said.

“The review and its implementation involved extensive consultation with staff.

"The Staff Consultative Committee, which included Union representation, unanimously agreed to the new structure.”

Professor Terry said the outcome of the review reflected international best practice.

“The University now has three units that operate separately: Internal Audit, Investigations and Risk.

"Each unit is led by an Associate Director who will each have open and direct reporting access into the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor and Chair of the Senate Risk Committee.

"This separation of activity and reporting lines ensures the University’s approach to such matters is more robust, better resourced and more closely focused on the day-to-day operations of the University.”

Professor Terry said an outcome of the review was the abolition of the role of Director of ARMS, due to the separation of the functions of the former ARMS unit into the three new units.

Any staff member affected by a reorganisation has a range of options available to them including: seeking a review of the decision-making processes; applying for positions that are similar to the role held as well as for other positions in the University; redeploying with appropriate training; or accepting a redundancy package.

“Mr Procopis was offered all of these opportunities,” Professor Terry said.

Professor Terry said both the UQ Senate and the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) were briefed on the outcome of the review and the proposed restructure prior to its implementation.

“A further media comment regarding ‘pay-outs’ to Professors Greenfield and Keniger is also incorrect.

"Legally we, and any other organisation in Australia, are not permitted to retrospectively take away an individual’s salary, superannuation or annual leave entitlements.

"These are essential provisions that protect the basic rights of any employee,” Professor Terry said.

“In both cases the payment covered only the entitlements we are legally obliged to pay (i.e., salary; superannuation contributions; and accrued leave payments). No other bonuses or payments were made.

“UQ is extremely committed to the implementation of the Integrity and Accountability Reform Program. A key element of the reform program is a strengthening of organisational structures to support assurance, investigation and risk management,” she said.

“UQ staff are encouraged to bring forward suspected or known impropriety, fraud or other misconduct to the appropriate people within the University, or to external authorities such as the CMC or the Queensland Police Service.

"Anyone who exposes such conduct is protected by law, under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010, and must not, and will not experience reprisal.

"UQ will not tolerate any form of reprisal,” said Professor Terry.