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Allegations of bullying, financial malpractice at FSG

Chris Dobney

Some management staff of collapsed disability service provider FSG were paid out in cash before the organisation moved into voluntary administration, according to a whistleblower.

And staff are ‘coming out of the woodwork’ with allegations of bullying by managers, the Services Union says.

The union’s QLD executive president Jennifer Thomas told Echonetdaily that while it didn’t have evidence of the alleged payouts, rumours were ‘rife’ inside the organisation and ‘we understand the Queensland Government is alerting ASIC regarding management practices’.

She added forensic accountants working to uncover the reasons for the company’s collapse had also been made aware of the claims.

‘We have called on the Queensland Government to investigate allegations of bullying by management,’ she said.

FSG’s directors appointed John Park and Joanne Dunn of FTI Consulting as Voluntary Administrators, effective at 30 June and a first meeting of creditors will take place on July 11.

But the whistleblower who spoke to Echonetdaily on condition of anonymity claims management knew two months ago that they were going to go into administration.

Managers were advised not to pay contractors, and those connected with FSG property assets were advised there would not be funds available about 30 days beforehand, according to the insider’s allegations.

Letter to staff

The union was also scathing of the official ‘farewell’ from the company that came in the form of a letter from chairperson Lady Barbara Hickey.

‘On behalf of your FSG Board of Directors, we wish to thank each and every one of you for your care, commitment and passion for those that YOU have walked along side for so many, many years,’ she wrote.

‘We understand how difficult, confusing and heartbreaking these past few weeks have been for so many of you and for those you care for.

‘We can only hope that you continue with the same attitude and strength of character that you have displayed at FSG in whatever you chose to do in the next phase of your life.

‘We will never forget you and FSG and hope that our paths will cross sometime again in the near future,’ she concluded.

The union member who forwarded the email said it was ‘a pity none of the board had the decency to meet with workers directly or turn up to the Fair Work Commission in person – or answer any questions!

‘They may all have to answer to ASIC now.’

Entitlements

While frontline workers and direct support staff will find a new home with provider CPL it could take months for staff to receive their final entitlements.

Ms Thomas said it could take up to 13 weeks for wages to be paid. She added that entitlements couldn’t be paid until the company officially went into liquidation.

‘Once that happens, and staff have their separation certificates, the Financial Entitlements Guarantee (FEG) can be activated.

She said staff would nominate FEG to represent them at creditors’ meetings in return for signing up to the scheme.

According to the FEG website, up to 13 weeks of wages plus long service leave and holiday pay are payable and are generally paid out within 16 weeks of lodgement.


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