Categorized | North

$200,000 payout for shunted arts leader

CHRIS THOMSON

Wanneroo ratepayers are set to fork out $200,000 to compensate a prominent arts and community development manager unfairly stood down by their city council.

In a decision published today, WA industrial commissioner Jennifer Harrison found Diane Elizabeth Shaw was unfairly and unreasonably stood down.

After a 30-year arts administration and community development career – which included co-founding Fremantle’s prominent Deckchair Theatre Company in 1983 – Ms Shaw made the ill-fated decision to fill a two-year position at Wanneroo council.

Soon after she started as Manager Capacity Building in May 2010, she noted some of her staff were fatigued after they had worked hard to open the new Wanneroo library and cultural centre.

On August 11, 2010, two senior Wanneroo bureaucrats accused her of being unfit for work and claimed they had concerns about her mental health – in particular her “cognitive and psychological functioning”.

Before Ms Harrison, Ms Shaw testified that the pair did not give details or examples and refused to do so when she asked them to.

She said that before being stood down that day she was accused of causing distress to employees – a claim she denied before Ms Harrison.

The duo directed Ms Shaw to undergo psychiatric assessment.

Contrary to the concerns of her senior colleagues, Ms Shaw’s psychiatric examiner granted her a clean bill of mental health.

But by October 20 she was out the Wanneroo City Council door for good.

Ms Harrison found the council did not have sufficient reason to stand Ms Shaw down and the action was unfair and unjust.

She found Ms Shaw had conducted herself in a professional manner at the city, and that issues relied upon by complainants against her had been trivial, lacking in substance and exaggerated.

Ms Harrison directed the city and Ms Shaw to confer on her compensation claim of $196,027.44 – which both parties have agreed she would have earned if allowed to serve out her two years in the job.

Two years and five months after Ms Shaw left the city its outdated website still lists her under her former position.

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