OVIC investigation into alleged surveillance by VicForests
10 August 2023
VicForests acknowledges the final report issued by the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC) into alleged surveillance of members of the public more than a decade ago.
VicForests engaged diligently, transparently and professionally with OVIC throughout this investigation and is disappointed OVIC has drawn conclusions on claims that changed and grew over time and were unsupported by any documentary evidence.
VicForests’ Board of Directors commissioned an external investigation engaging RSM Australia (RSM), an experienced, diligent and highly commended external agency, to conduct an independent investigation into these claims. RSM did not identify any direct information or evidence of VicForests engaging the private investigator to conduct surveillance of a member or members of the public.
VicForests does not conduct covert surveillance. The overwhelming evidence uncovered through the two investigations shows that no Board member or executive of VicForests at that time had any knowledge of the individual being engaged to conduct the work as claimed.
VicForests is disappointed the former VicForests employee did not co-operate with either the RSM or OVIC investigations and accepts that this leaves open the question of his conduct. VicForests’ position is that if he did organise the alleged covert surveillance, this was an action undertaken outside of his role or authority and was not official VicForests business. This is supported by claims by the investigator that he was instructed to disguise the nature of his activities.