Whistleblowing Women

Australian women who blow the whistle on corruption in their workplaces.

Dr Lynn Simpson : a Whistleblowing Woman in the Department of Agriculture.

Dr Lynn Simpson was once regarded as one of Australia's most outstanding live-export vets.


She spent the years between 2001 and 2012 documenting the conditions aboard vessels transporting Australian cattle from Perth to Libya, Turkey and the Middle East.

She completed 57 voyages.

 

In 2012 the Department of Agriculture (DA), the live-export regulator, offered Dr Simpson a role - on a six-month contract - within the Animal Welfare Branch.

She was to serve as technical advisor while the DA carried out a review of the Australian Standards for Exporting Livestock (ASEL).

 

Dr Simpson gave PowerPoint presentations, with slides, to her co-workers, including the DA's deputy secretary, Phillip Glyde.

She described hellish scenes.

ASEL committee members were stunned.

It was the first time an on-board vet had actually produced a report on conditions on board with photographs.

 

Dr Simpson's report was never intended for public consumption.

But on 5 February, 2013, her report was mysteriously uploaded by someone inside the DA to its website.

Suddenly Dr Simpson found that the problem was not live-export standards, the problem was her.

 

And a powerful industry had turned on her.

 

She became increasingly isolated at work.

On June 13, 2013, she attended a meeting in Phillip Glyde's office where she was told that she couldn't stay in her job because there was going to be a witch hunt against her.

She was later given a letter from the first assistant secretary of the DA's Animal Division, Karen Schneider, advising her that the industry had expressed the view that they could not work with Dr Simpson.

Karen Schneider stressed that she did not share this view and that Dr Simpson had done her job competently.

 

Dr Simpson was sent home on "miscellaneous leave".

She became a pariah.

 

In June 2016, the chairman of the Australian Livestock Exporters Council (ALEC), Simon Crean, told the ABC that ALEC had not put any pressure on the DA to have Dr Simpson dismissed.

He said that Dr Simpson had tried to provide constructive advice to exporters on improvements.

 

Lynn Simpson had intended to go back to sea once her contract with the department was completed.

But as far as the industry were concerned, Dr Simpson was finished.



As Dr Simpson's distress over losing her job increased, she was placed on sick leave.

She suffered from headaches and dizziness.

Her doctor believes she was suffering from post-traumatic syndrome disorder.

The antidepressants she was prescribed left her feeling worse.

 

She is now 45 years old.

She has not worked since her dismissal.

She lives alone in a remote, rented farmhouse with her three dogs.

 

 

Dr Simpson talks nostalgically of her former life.

"I pine for the ships ... I miss the meaningfulness of my work and the camaraderie."

 

In October 2013 Comcare agreed to pay Dr Simpson 75 per cent of her former salary till 2036, when she will be 65.

Legal proceedings are ongoing and she has big legal bills to pay.

 

The draft version of ASEL that could have led to substantial improvements for exported animals is now just another file in the department's vast electronic archives.

 


Overnight, whistleblower vet Lynn Simpson became a pariah - and then she all but vanished, Nikki Barrowclough, Good Weekend, The Age, 10 September 2016

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