Lyndoch surveys staff, but the deeper questions remain

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Carol Altmann – The Terrier

A couple of weeks ago, Lyndoch Living hired a Melbourne consultant to survey staff and unearth whether, essentially, any of the issues raised here these past six weeks are true.

The online survey, which closed at 5.30pm today, is at least an acknowledgement by Lyndoch that it can’t ignore the stream of allegations around its workplace culture, but I have little confidence that it will reveal very much at all.

Why? Because I doubt many staff will be brave enough to respond, or to answer openly.

First, the Survey Monkey survey is intended to be confidential, yet so many people within Lyndoch that I have spoken to are nervous that as it was sent to their Lyndoch email address, it could be traceable.

Second, the “confidential” survey asks what area of Lyndoch the staff member works in.

Thirdly, the “confidential” survey asks if anyone has an “extensive issue” that they would like “someone” (who??) to call them about, or to see them about, to please provide their contact details.


Finally, just days after this survey was sent out, Lyndoch board chair Kerry Nelson issued a statement to all staff which emphasised the board’s full support for Lyndoch CEO Doreen Power.

Ms Power, at the end of the day, is responsible for any workplace issues which could be flushed out by the survey.

In other words, before nervous staff have even spoken up via the survey, the person who is ultimately in charge has been absolved by the board of any responsibility.

Given all of the above, would you fill out this survey without fear or favour?

One of the questions on the confidential Survey Monkey survey issued to Lyndoch Living staff.

What Lyndoch still struggles to grasp is that the allegations around Lyndoch are not from one or two disgruntled staff who have turned to a journalist, but a stream of people who have come to me as their last resort.

I didn’t approach these people – they approached me and they continue to approach me, because they no longer trust the internal workings of Lyndoch to listen, to protect, to nurture and to restore their faith in their workplace.

It’s exactly what happened around the misuse and abuse of credit cards within the Warrnambool City Council, when whistleblowers pushed information to me because they no longer trusted the internal systems, and no bloody wonder.


The council, in its newfound transparent culture, has hounded those who it believes “leaked” information, rather than ask why information was passed on in the first place, or be grateful to those who had the courage to do so.

It’s the same attitude behind Lyndoch threatening dismissal of staff members who express an opinion on The Terrier Facebook page or, heaven help them, clicks “like”.

I can only say to the Lyndoch board and executive: wake up and smell the coffee.

Instead of spending time and money on Survey Monkey, public relations spin, and hunting down staff who click on The Terrier, the board and executive should be diving deep to build respect, empathy and trust.

The cover of the latest Lyndoch annual report, now called a Community Report, which contains little financial information.

The first step should be the appointment of an experienced, independent reviewer who can take the time to conduct private, in-depth, face-to-face interviews, off site from Lyndoch.

The second should be the board insisting on summaries of staff exit interviews, which I can only assume doesn’t happen already.

And the third is creating a culture not of  “yes, sir, no, sir, three-bags-full-sir” but which encourages the question of “why?

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria, the Honourable Anne Ferguson, recently spoke about the need for a “questioning” workplace culture as an essential part of a healthy and safe work environment.

And as Lyndoch is community owned, it is not just the staff who should be encouraged to ask questions, but all of us, with an expectation of answers.

Yet, after six weeks of my hammering on the door of Lyndoch, there are still so many questions:

about staff turnover, horse race sponsorship, the racing corporate marquee, the $100 million masterplan, the “state of the art” medical clinic, staff shortages, why there is still only one Registered Nurse on night duty for 200 residents, board selection, the new constitution, core values, contracts, equipment, and corporate cars (which I haven’t even got to yet)….


We still don’t even know whether Lyndoch made a surplus or deficit last financial year.

So while Nero tunes up his fiddle on Hopkins Rd, we will rest, regroup and we will keep pressing on, after Christmas and New Year, until we have the answers.

Thankyou to every single person who has helped the Foxy Fighting Fund. If you would like to make a small contribution, you can do so below.

The Foxy Fighting Fund

19 thoughts on “Lyndoch surveys staff, but the deeper questions remain”

  1. Well done Carol I follow this with interest I also find it appalling that this is happening at our beloved Lyndoch where my mother-in -law spent the last 7 years of her life before she passed away in 2007. She was so well looked after.What I have read leaves me scratching my head. How can they allegedly treat their staff in this manner. I will be putting money in tip jar very soon Carol…Keep on keeping on with this.. (Edited – thankyou for your comment Denise, but you are right, I can only publish half of it, Carol)

  2. My previous comment may not be accepted but by hell I am so angry at the appalling treatment of the the staff and the aged who pay to be cared for it makes me very scared if I get to that stage in my life where I need caring it will not be up to standard.

  3. Some of the questions sound similar to the survey undertaken by staff working at South West Healthcare big difference is that it is conducted by DHHS and results are compared across all public hospitals in regard to staff satisfaction and morale.
    Always find it interesting that such organisations have internal points of contact, but no references for external resources for staff who feel disempowered.

  4. First off let me just say – issues of understaffing are serious and I am as concerned about an aged care facility being run poorly as the next person.

    However… this article is point blank a terrible example of muckracking small time journalism – I would compare it to the practices of larger bias news media corporations but that gives it too much credibility. This is in effect little more than a somewhat articulate facebook rant.

    If your first point of order is that the survey is ‘confidential 😉 – you have effectively said no matter what Lyndoch does they will be in the wrong. No survey? Oh can’t believe they won’t even consult staff! Survey? Oh there’s no way it could be confidential! Staff could just skip the questions they find too invasive.

    The statement from the chair supporting the CEO is little more than what youd expect from any organisation in the same situation. Ask any sports fan – the coach always has everyone’s full support – even right up until the day before they get fired. It’s hardly an indication that she’s ‘been absolved of any responsibility’.

    I understand being concerned about confidentiality but there are a whole range of ways to communicate annonymously and you know that full well. It doesn’t have to be this survey. Staff will only be able to affect any change if their issues are communicated and I put it to you that means communicating in a more credible and direct way than by shooting a facebook post to a local blogger. Not to mention that your site asks for people’s email to register a comment – should we be concerned that you will divulge names in an effort to support your argument?

    You implied that ‘time and money’ had been wasted on this endeavour. You do realise surney monkey is free? Do you have any idea how quickly a survey can be put together on this site?

    I could go on picking the nits out of this shaggy haired piece but the point is this – all you do is make rhetorical arguments and attempt to paint whoever is in your crosshairs into a position where a comment of any type, or indeed no comment at all, is indicative of guilt. This is why you lack credibility. It’s why everyone who invokes your name in an argument lacks credibility. It’s why people who make real decisions, who have real power and actually could effect change that might be beneficial to Lyndoch staff will never entertain a conversation with you.

    In any one of your attacks on every supposedly corrupt person and organisation in Warrnambool (a list which is so long at this point it’s a wonder, by your description, tanks aren’t rolling down Liebig) – you never offer solutions or constructive ways forward. Everyone is just terrible and should quit – I suppose that’s the upshot – I don’t know I have to glean it for myself amidst the blind indiscriminate rage. Even in this instance an organisation has responded with at least an attempt at consulting their staff and it’s still not good enough for you.

    The last line of your post here is so instructive – you literally allude to the fall of the Roman Empire – it might be a nice rhetorical flourish but what an extraordinary exaggeration of the issues at hand to even make that comparison as a joke.

    There was a time where I thought what you were doing was interesting and valuable but this is nothing more than muckracking – you have no construcitve ideas for how to proceed and you have no real leverage to change anthing. For me this is the most disappointing part, because many of your readers will glom onto your empty ‘cage rattling’ as hope that their issues could be resolved. And you’re not helping. In fact if anything I suspect throwing their lot in with you could only possibly make their situation worse.

    1. Hi “Fred”, I think if you read back through my series on this issue, you will see I have offered many ways that the community can become more involved in Lyndoch Living and to help address some of the issues raised. As to what happens inside Lyndoch, those changes are ultimately up to the CEO. I am keen to hear your ideas on what should or could be done.
      I must add that while I can cop criticism, which comes with the territory of bring a journalist, I always find it interesting how people like yourself love to offer advice and commentary on the quality of someone else’s journalism, yet use a false name and email address. Courageous? I don’t think so.

      1. I never questioned your courage – just your effectiveness and I suppose on some level, your sincerity to actually make a difference as opposed to just causing a ruckus.

        Again it’s telling that you didn’t really address the points I made about your circular rhetoric which is designed only to create lose lose conditions for your new targets, but instead made a personal attack on my character.

        Ignoring valid criticism to call someone who engaged sincerely, albeit critically, with your ‘work’ a coward is hardly the apex of bravery, Carol.

        I’m sure given your concern for confidentiality with Lyndoch staff that you could understand why I too would want anonymity in a public forum – but your hypocrisy on this point doesn’t surprise me.

        For whatever it’s worth this Lyndoch stuff isn’t my personal hobby horse – I don’t have any personal vendetta to wage against them (or Council or any other of the supposedly failing and corrupt institutions plaguing our regional city) and so it’s not my concern to map out the solution. You are the one who claims something needs fixing and for that reason the burden to demonstrate a constructive solution falls to you – or rather doesn’t ‘fall’ so much as you picked up the cause of your own volition.

        To claim that a series of articles insinuating the ‘powers that be’ are all negligent, corrupt and/or incompetent constitutes some sort of plan is a fascinating insight into how you perceive what you do.

    2. These staff satisfaction surveys previously required staff to identify
      and so it was IMPOSSIBLE TO BE ANONYMOUS
      after these surveys there was no feedback, consultation, outcome or any evidence of issues being addressed, it was BUSINESS as usual, but they had ticked the box……..a survey was issued.
      Employee, 2 decades

  5. Fred it should have never got to this point. If management were supportive of staff there would be no need to even go down this road. I can tell you from experience, complain and you are punished. Is that a workplace you would be in comfortable working in? It’s very strange to me that the two people who have been the most critical of Carol’s journalism have not had the guts to put their names to emails. Thank God for Carol is all I will say. But it is all too late for the staff that have been victimised, bullied and either lost their jobs or resigned for their own sanity and well being. And unless you yourself have experienced this kind of behaviour in a workplace you have no idea how it affects your self esteem and self worth.

    1. I dont need to get into with you Sandy. I don’t know anything about Lyndoch and if people are having a tough go of it I want that rectified as much as the next person.

      My frustration is with Carol. I think she styles herself as your champion and savior and I dont think she is or even can do much for you except raise her own profile. I am intrigued by the whole cult around her to be honest. I am surprised more people don’t see that she is actually the worst type of opportunist, exploiting the real issues of everyday people for her own profile and/or entertainment.

      There are real ways to take industrial action and they don’t start with posting on a blog with some very local notoriety.

      The unfortunate reality of this type of action is that it will require some people putting reputation and livelihood at risk. That would be truly courageous. But slinging some verbal mud online isn’t going to worry the likes of Doreen Power – Carol knows this full well but it’s easier to play this role – the concerned online activist – because even when she achieves nothing she can point to thousands of digital words and say ‘look what I did!’ – conversely if something happens by coincidence she can claim it was because of her.

      But it’s all pretty meaningless hot air in the end and if you want something to actually change it’s going to take legitimate industrial action.

      1. It has you a little more aware and discussing just some of the serious issues facing Lyndoch staff and residents “Fred N” ,so what was your problem again ?.

      2. ‘Fred’ when I initially encountered Carol’s blog and it was an issue of concern that she was informing us about I asked her what are you going to do about it?
        Her response was something to the effect of ‘ I am providing you with the information, the tools for you to use as you see fit’
        At first I thought that is odd then I began to acknowledge and understand her role.. she is an investigative journalist who spent the time, energy and monies to flush out information we the public didn’t know about .
        It was now up to us where and what we did with the information .
        To my knowledge Carol has forwarded a great deal of information to various agencies and departments , IBAC for an example and other agencies.
        You have let rip with your anger and frustration and made some really unjust allegations, perhaps if you directed that anger and passion towards an entity that is causing Warrnambool community to be concerned it maybe more beneficial and proactive.

        And no I am not Wilma or any other alias, I am who I purport to be and would welcome a face to face discussion with you any time. (edited)

        1. Love to know what got edited from ‘I’d welcome meeting you face to face’

          Getting so worked up you threaten people to actual face to face confrontations is exactly why none of the people with genuine influence take you seriously, Cheryl.

  6. Fred I agree with you it will take legitimate industrial action to facilitate change.
    The problem is that the people who can facilitate that action have minimal, if any, resolve to so so. They have been beaten down to where they are afraid to voice any concerns for fear of retribution, such is the environment at Lyndoch. Are their fears justified?? I guess the countless staff that have left and the gag that has been imposed on them for commenting on these types of blogs is indicative of the ‘open and friendly’ management style currently deployed at Lyndoch. {By the way many organisations have a social media policy insitu now and it does mean NO comments about the organisation, personnel etc on social media platforms}
    Their union reps, if they have any, have a lot to answer for, they would have to be blind, deaf and dumb not to have invoked some union action. So shame on those reps.
    As to your comment of Carol having a ‘cult’ following…perhaps that is the case or as I prefer to describe it it is a number of people with similar values ie social justice, moral compass and advocacy.
    We are a community ‘Fred’ and as a community we stand together…hopefully that is a quality of Warrnambool that will always be evident.

  7. Voice of the people hey Carol? Won’t even publish my posts now?

    So Cheryl here had her threat to meet me for a face to face confrontation published – albeit edited, and I’d love to know what it said initially before you softened it. But of course my reply has miraculously not appeared. How curious!?

    It really is fascinating to see how people dress up and obfuscate fascism these days isn’t it?

    The only freedom of speech you all believe in is the freedom to agree with your angry mob.

    1. Heavens, the articulate anger. Am I game to say I have visitors from o/s, as tends to happen this time of year and have been a bit busy, but here you go, “Fred N”, published in full anonymous glory.

  8. Just wanted to say, having worked at Seymour Hospital, and first hand witnessed havoc, and heartache (edited) to the staff and community, I only hope the staff at LYNDOCH can feel all the support coming their way.

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