6 July 2012

There is no link between a former UQ staff member’s initial role in communicating information to the Chancellor, and the reorganisation of the University’s Assurance and Risk Management Services.

The reorganisation, which took effect from July 1, is a key step in a major Integrity and Accountability Reform Program announced in May.

UQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Debbie Terry said no one had been made to leave the University for disclosing information about an admission irregularity that occurred at the start of 2011.

“The people who had to leave because of what occurred were our two most senior staff, and they have left,” she said.

Professor Terry said a media report this week did not accurately explain the circumstances of the departure from UQ of the former Director of Assurance and Risk Management Services, Phil Procopis.

The reorganisation was a result of a 2011 review that was part of the pre-scheduled university-wide cycle of reviews, and was chaired by an independent interstate expert on auditing and risk management.

This review was instigated, the panel was appointed, and its terms of reference were agreed, before the Chancellor, John Story, received information about an irregular admission.

“If you look at the timing, it is clear that the review and the changes that resulted had nothing to do with Mr Procopis’s communication with the Chancellor,” Professor Terry said.

“In fact the Chancellor took the information provided by Mr Procopis so seriously that he commissioned an independent external investigation by Tim Carmody, SC.

“In the meantime, the review into audit and risk management took place as scheduled and we are now implementing the results of the review.

“A key outcome is a new model for assurance, risk management and investigations, making them more robust, better resourced, and more closely embedded into UQ’s day-to-day operations,” she said.

These three areas will work closely together, and ensure that the focus is on preventative actions and continual improvements, reflecting international best practice.

Each area will have open and direct access to the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor and/or the Chair of UQ’s Senate Risk Management Committee, Grant Murdoch, if required.

Professor Terry said it would not be right for her to comment on an individual employee’s situation.

However, staff whose positions were affected by a reorganisation had a range of options, which may include: seeking a review of the decision-making processes; redeploying with appropriate training; applying for positions that are similar to the role they have held as well as for other positions in the University; or accepting a redundancy package.

She restated UQ’s commitment to high standards of integrity and accountability.

“I want to reiterate that implementation of the Integrity and Accountability Reform Program is a priority.

“We encourage staff to bring forward any suspected or known impropriety, fraud or other corrupt conduct to the appropriate people within UQ, or to external authorities such as the CMC or the Queensland Police Service,” Professor Terry said.

Anyone who exposes such conduct is protected by law, under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010, and must not experience reprisal as a result of their action.

The person who gave Mr Procopis the information that prompted the Chancellor to initiate an investigation remains protected by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 and the University will not disclose their identity.

Media: Fiona Kennedy 07 3365 1384 or Lesley Whitteker telephone 0417 496 397.