Queensland Meals on Wheels in turmoil after bullying claims

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Meals on Wheels is responsible for delivering meals to thousands of people. Photo: Nathalie CraigQueensland Meals on Wheels is in turmoil after changes in the organisation’s board resulted in an exodus of staff and a “toxic” work environment.

Confidential documents obtained by Fairfax Media outline allegations of bullying and intimidation levelled against board members prior to the resignation of the organisation’s chief executive.

Fairfax Media understands locks have been changed at the organisation’s head office at Brendale, north of Brisbane, and at least one worker’s compensation claim has been made as a result of alleged bullying.

Services to Meals on Wheels clients have not been affected.

Queensland Meals on Wheels has not responded to requests for comment.

A Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services spokeswoman said the Queensland government, which provides $277,000 a year to help the organisation meet contractual and other legislative requirements, was aware of the turmoil.

“The department understands the board is meeting soon to resolve management and staffing arrangements,” she said.

“The department has been advised that Meals on Wheels is confident that services to clients will not be disrupted during this time.”

Stafford and Districts Meals on Wheels president Jack Pool, who until March was a board member, said the situation was dire.

“My concern at this stage is that, owing to the appearing problems that are coming from within Queensland Meals on Wheels, I am concerned that eventually we will be letting down the elderly and the disabled we have been looking after for so many years,” he said.

Mr Pool said there was significant dissent forming within the ranks of volunteers across the state.

“It’s getting to the stage where we’ve got to get together to work as a team outside of what’s happening,” he said.

“The sooner we can do that, the better it will be for our clients.”

Pine Rivers Meals on Wheels president Lawrie Augustine said the organisation had “lost its direction completely”.

“The state of confusion in that office leaves one wondering as to where the hell the organisation is going,” he said.

“My great concern from what I’ve observed is we’ve got a couple of people in the organisation who are building themselves their own little empire.

“…They’re changing locks and it seems that someone’s building a kingdom and they don’t want anyone to know what’s going on.

“That strikes me as being contrary to the idea of the organisation. It’s supposed to be a helpful organisation helping the various groups and, all of a sudden, there’s no help coming forth.”

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