Nepotism, false Certificates of Aboriginality found in NT anti-corruption watchdog’s third report

by | Oct 16, 2020 | News | 3 comments

The NT‘s anti-corruption watchdog has disqualified a claim of Aboriginality by a former NT Government official and found the Territory Government’s recruitment process has allowed a “significant” amount of candidates to abuse recruitment processes.  

Independent Commissioner Against Corruption, Ken Fleming QC on Friday published his third report into an investigation of systemic corruption and improper conduct risks in the Territory Government’s recruitment and disciplinary frameworks. 

The report contains findings that former Department of Health site and security manager Ashley Brown engaged in corrupt conduct,” Mr Fleming said.  

“He lied about his qualifications and falsified Certificates of Aboriginality in order to win a Northern Territory Government position advertised under a Special Measures Recruitment and Selection Plan. 

The investigation has also identified “serious and systemic improper conduct risks” within the Territory Government’s recruitment and disciplinary frameworks.  

“The investigation into Mr Brown’s conduct showed that Northern Territory Government recruitment and disciplinary processes do not adequately detect candidates who falsify their applications and qualifications, or candidates who have been subject to disciplinary action elsewhere in the Northern Territory public sector,” Mr Fleming said.  

The Commissioner said that during the investigation he received “a small, but significant” amount of reports detailing nepotism, exaggerated qualifications, failures to declare a conflict of interest, failures to disclose history of offences, false Certificates of Aboriginality and failure to disclose previous misconduct.

“The report describes that public sector employees who have engaged in serious wrongdoing and resign before disciplinary proceedings are completed can continue to serve in the public sector because agencies have limited visibility of persons who have resigned while subject to disciplinary processes,” Mr Fleming said.  

Mr Fleming flagged that public servants who have been subject to disciplinary processes are not recorded in a central register.  

There is also no ‘across government register’ of employees who have dishonestly attempted to obtain employment as a public officer. 

Mr Fleming said Brown applied for more than 80 public servant positions, and insisted he was Indigenous “because his grandmother told him a story to that effect in 1993”. 

The Commissioner’s investigation found no evidence to substantiate a claim to Aboriginality, except Mr Brown’s own statutory declarations.  

“He finally fabricated two Certificates of Aboriginality. He used one COA 14 times attempting to obtain employment with the Northern Territory Government. He finally obtained employment with DoH by using both fabricated documents,” Mr Fleming said.  

The NTPS does not have a standardised approach to risk-based pre-employment screening, and there is currently no guidance regarding the application of criminal history checks and other screening processes common in other jurisdictions and industries.”

The Commissioner has put forward a number of recommendations to strengthen recruitment and disciplinary processes, including the Special Measures Recruitment and Selection process. 

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