Death sparks Vic building authority probe

Rob Karkut
An inquiry will examine Rob Karkut's death and claims of a toxic workplace culture at the regulator. -PR Handout Image

Victoria's building regulator will be investigated over allegations of a toxic workplace culture, after a long-time employee took his own life.

The Community and Public Sector Union is demanding an independent inquiry into the Victorian Building Authority's workplace culture after the death of Rob Karkut, who had worked as a building inspector at the regulator for 16 years.

They union says it members are "outraged" at the circumstances of Mr Karkut's death, and want to ensure none of the regulator's other employees suffered the "harassment and bullying" he endured. 

The members claim workplace culture issues were widespread in the organisation, and want any manager involved or responsible for Mr Karkut's "unacceptable treatment" stood down. 

"We further note that People and Culture do not have the confidence of the CPSU and its members," the union resolved in a meeting last week. 

The regulator says it takes allegations of workplace bullying extremely seriously. 

It has agreed to have the circumstances surrounding Mr Karkut's death investigated through an independently-led inquiry, that would also probe the wider claims about workplace culture.

"This is incredibly sad news for our colleague's family, friends, and workmates, and our thoughts are with them," a Victorian Building Authority spokesman said. 

"We have offered support to their family, and our team, and will continue to do so.

"As this matter is under investigation, it would be inappropriate to comment further."

The union members say the inquiry needs to be able to look at the whole organisation, and people who have left or been injured in recent years. 

They resolved that the regulator should inform them urgently on measures it would take to ensure a safe workplace.

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