ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact

Two local public servants approaching retirement age are breaking away from the self-serving norms usually associated with their positions.

Derek Jacobsen from the Department of Education and Wendy Daley from the Australian Tax Office are being nominated for local service awards through the Betoota Heights Rotary Club for their dedication to making the lives of other people better.

Public servants over the age of 65 are usually seen as selfish, self-serving, economic and social handbrakes on society but Derek and Wendy have proven that assumption to be wrong in this instance.

Rather than trying to white-ant the talented people under him through passive workplace bullying and placing unrealistic professional expectations on junior staff, Derek has taken on board the knowledge and lived experiences of the younger members of his team.

“I think they’re just great,” he said.

“You know, just because I’m a well-educated white man, doesn’t mean I know everything. Rather than just explain to people junior to me that we do things my way and my way only, I’m open to collaboration on all facets of my work and take the collective professional experience and knowledge of my team and use it to create a better framework to serve education in this country,”

“It’s the right thing to do. Also, when I retire, I hope they just don’t delete my job and replace it with a string of 12-month contract work with no benefits or perks that I’ve enjoyed for my entire working life. That would just be so cruel.”

Many of Derek’s sentiments were echoed by Wendy, who said she lets the younger staff in her team gain experience through guidance – rather than setting them up to fail so she can publically humiliate them in a pan-office email thread.

“I already feel guilty about staying in my job past retirement age,” she said.

“But I think fostering a supportive and progressive work environment makes people excited to come to work. When young people can see a career pathway, something to work for, they work hard for it. When senior public servants try to sabotage the careers of people junior to them, engage in shameless arse-covering and blame shifting, it helps nobody except the senior public servant. They’re only serving themselves, which is something I find repugnant.”

More to come.


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