Aaron Bunch Journalist with Australian Associated Press | Collection of published work | + 61 484 008 119 | abunch@aap.com.au

Aaron Bunch
Man lied about Aboriginality to win NT job

A former Northern Territory government security manager falsified his certificate of Aboriginality 15 times to land a job, the Top End corruption watchdog says.

October 16, 2020

A former police officer lied about his Aboriginality to dishonestly land a Northern Territory government job after his grandmother told him he was Indigenous, the Top End’s corruption watchdog says.

Former NT Health Department security manager and Queensland police officer Ashley Brown falsified his resume and certificates of Aboriginality 15 times, the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption has found.

Commissioner Ken Fleming QC on Friday said Mr Brown engaged in corrupt conduct when he lied to win the pubic service position in September 2019.

He submitted two fake COAs in an application for the job, which was advertised under the NT’s special measures recruitment and selection plan.

“Mr Brown was shortlisted with four others, on the basis of the special measures,” Mr Fleming said.

“Then, on the strength of his qualifications stated in his resume, he was considered suitable for the position.”

Mr Brown later admitted exaggerating his work experience and listing qualifications he hadn’t completed, including a Bachelor of Nursing and a Certificate IV in Security Risk Management.

His claims about his police service were also found to be overstated, with Mr Fleming saying Mr Brown had only briefly acted in the role of senior sergeant with the Queensland Police Service.

Mr Brown also confessed that he had not been the state coordinator for the Queensland Police drug and alcohol unit.

Despite the finding against him, Mr Brown continued to insist he was Aboriginal “because his grandmother told him he was in 1993”.

An investigation into the government’s recruitment and disciplinary processes found Mr Brown had applied for more than 80 public service positions.

It identified “serious and systemic improper conduct risks in the recruitment and disciplinary” systems.

Mr Fleming said the government’s recruitment and disciplinary processes were unable to detect job seekers who falsified their applications and resumes.

A small but significant number of applicants exaggerated qualifications or falsified certificates of Aboriginality, he said.

Mr Fleming said nepotism had been reported to ICAC, along with failures to declare conflicts of interest, relevant connections, previous misconduct in employment and criminal history.

Some employees later said “the interviewers did not ask the right questions”.

The investigation also found candidates who had been subject to disciplinary action elsewhere in the Northern Territory public sector were missed.

Mr Fleming said public sector employees who engaged in serious wrongdoing but resigned before being disciplined were able to remain in the public sector.

“Agencies have limited visibility of people who have resigned while subject to disciplinary processes,” he said.

The investigation found there is also no central register of employees who are, or have been, subject to disciplinary processes,.

Additionally, there is no register of employees who have dishonestly attempted to obtain, obtained, or retained employment as a public officer.

Mr Fleming made a range of recommendations to strengthen government recruitment and disciplinary processes in an NT ICAC investigation report published on Friday.

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