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Statement from CEO Mark Dixon in response to IBAC investigation of Wodonga Council (Operation Eden)

17 Dec, 2020

Statement from CEO Mark Dixon in response to IBAC investigation of Wodonga Council (Operation Eden) 

Today, IBAC (Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission in Victoria) has published the council's response to an investigation undertaken by IBAC since 2018.

The investigation explored whether public officers, including councillors, were showing favouritism to commercial developers and whether developers had affected the performance of officers in undertaking their duties.

Most importantly, our community should note the investigation did not find any such corruption had occurred.

It did highlight a concern around a potential conflict of interest regarding a senior employee and the council has worked with IBAC to identify and close any gaps in regards to reporting suspected misconduct and corruption and the regular audits undertaken in regards to procurement.

Since the investigation began, and before, the council has been working to improve and tighten its procedures and training around staff's understanding of procurement and recruitment polices and guidelines and the requirements of the staff code of conduct in line with best-practice and the recommendations of agencies like IBAC and the Victorian Auditor-General's office.

The council has also ensured staff are aware of the avenues available to them for complaints, public interest disclosures and organisational breaches.

The senior employee referenced in the report is no longer with the council. Their departure was not an outcome of the investigation.

As a council, and as its CEO, we want to thank IBAC for their assistance in working through the opportunities raised and as is the case with IBAC investigations, hope our experience can assist other councils.

The IBAC investigation was very detailed and comprehensive and looked not only into the allegations presented but also our entire operations. Following this thorough process, I want to assure our community they can have continued confidence in our organisation.

We are now concentrating on looking forward with our new councillor group, towards our next four-year Council Plan and the many opportunities and exciting projects that are happening across our city.

The full report summary can be found on IBAC's website at https://www.ibac.vic.gov.au/investigating-corruption/past-investigation-summaries.