Susan Devoy and Jackie Blue to move on from Human Rights Commission

Susan Devoy.
Susan Devoy. Photo credit: Getty

The Human Rights Commission has a new acting head - Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero.

It's a serious shake-up at the commission and comes as two high-profile female figureheads - Susan Devoy and Dr Jackie Blue - leave their jobs there.

Neither are seeking re-appointment with their terms coming to an end.

The changes come after a Ministerial review, released on May 15, found the commission had failed in dealing with sexual harassment claims made by staff members and had serious problems with its organisational culture.

Dr Jackie Blue.
Dr Jackie Blue. Photo credit: Newshub Nation

Justice Minister Andrew Little said the commission had been "found wanting when it comes to the quality of its own culture and processes to look after its people".

Mr Little said the review found "unsatisfactory relationships" among senior leaders at the Commission including an "all but a total breakdown in the relationship between the Chief Commissioner and at least one other Commissioner".

Retired Judge Coral Shaw recommended Mr Little make decisions on the tenure of Commissioners whose term had expired or was near expiry and begin recruiting new Commissioners "without undue delay".

Last week, Chief Human Rights Commissioner David Rutherford announced he'd be leaving the Commission in June after serving in the role since 2011. His term expired in 2016 and he had not sought reappointment.

In the meantime Ms Tesoriero will be the acting head of the Human Rights Commission, until all three vacancies are filled.

Ms Tesoriero will work with Chief Executive Cynthia Brophy to continue implementing the recommendations Judge Coral Shaw made about the commission's internal processes and culture.

"Ultimately the new Commissioners will complete the work of implementing the review recommendations identified in retired Judge Shaw's report. In the meantime, everyone at the Commission is committed to begin making the changes so they can be implemented as quickly and smoothly as possible," Ms Tesoriero said.

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Blue's term expires in June, and Race Relations Commissioner Ms Devoy's expired in March. Commissioners usually run a five-year appointment and stay until a replacement is found or they choose to leave.


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