De Jong challenges AOC review independence

Former chief executive Fiona de Jong has questioned the independence of a review into workplace practices at the Australian Olympic Committee.

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Part of the AOC’s response to bullying claims by de Jong, which have led to senior staffer Mike Tancred standing down, will include an “independent” review of the body’s culture by the incoming chief executive, Matt Carroll.

De Jong said Carroll could be put in a difficult position should claims of misconduct be made against members of the executive, headed by president John Coates.

“I would question the ability of any CEO to be truly independent and impartial in circumstances that the CEO was to become aware of an allegation against an individual to whom he or she reports,” de Jong told the ABC.

“That is, any other members of the board or indeed a president.

“Why can’t it just be a fully independent commission as has been the case established to hear my complaint?”

At a Wednesday night crisis meeting the AOC executive resolved to refer de Jong’s complaint, that media director Tancred threatened her, to a committee of three senior counsel or retired judges.

Tancred has denied the allegations but will remain stood down pending an investigation.

De Jong, who quit last December, has claimed the case was among a dozen instances of workplace harassment in the AOC from 2004 to last year.

She also took aim at the AOC’s time frame in dealing with her matter.

“What the AOC hasn’t been able to do for four months, they’ve now miraculously been able to achieve in four days since my complaint became public,” de Jong said.

The response comes amid an increasingly bitter contest for the AOC presidency, with incumbent Coates facing a challenge for the first time since taking the role 27 years ago.

Olympic hockey gold medallist Danni Roche is challenging Coates with a vote to be held on May 6 at the AOC’s annual general meeting.