on air now

‘I have never seen a more fear-based culture’: Professor Caroline Taylor on the CFA

The academic who detailed an alleged culture of bullying, intimidation and harassment within the CFA has spoken out about what she describes is the “culture of fear” in the organisation.

Professor Caroline Taylor, the senior CFA advisor authored a report which was has been leaked to The Age and alleges she has been threatened by senior CFA personnel, and still fears repercussions for speaking publicly.

Neil Mitchell: This really disturbs me. The more I hear about the culture inside the fire services in this state, the more disgusted I am.  It’s toxic.

In an expansive interview this morning with Neil Mitchell, she spoke about her research. She is now on stress leave from the organisation.

Professor Taylor says she wants to speak to Premier Daniel Andrews and Emergency Services Minister James Merlino about the explosive claims.

“I’m speaking out because the data has haunted me and in all good conscience I cannot allow the work to be silenced and to be hidden,” she said.

“What I found was a deeply embedded culture of bullying, intimidation and harassment that is done with seeming impunity.”

Professor Taylor said the behaviours prevalent in the CFA “do not reflect a 21st century organisation.”

“I have never seen a more fear-based culture,” she said.

A staggering 56 per cent of the CFA professional workforce took part in the survey, a response rate which Professor Taylor said was “almost unheard of” in research.

“Staff engaged with this survey revealed quite clearly, with great clarity and depth, that their attempts to report sexual assaults were met with them being threatened about consequences and repercussions,” she said.

Professor Taylor stressed that these problems were not merely vestiges of past management.

“If that was the case, people wouldn’t have shied away from my research, they would’ve engaged with it,” she said.

“They deserve better. The staff at CFA get out of bed every morning to serve and protect, and CFA should also serve and protect its own staff.”

Press PLAY below to hear Neil Mitchell’s full interview with Professor Caroline Taylor