The West Australian government says future recruits will have to show their values “align” with departments if they want a job, after a conservation worker who had engaged in game hunting was removed from his position.
Questions were raised about recruitment practices in the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) after photos emerged of a district parks and wildlife manager posing with a gun beside dead African wildlife including an elephant, a giraffe and a zebra.
Jewell Crossberg, who was appointed as Acting District Manager Esperance on July 1 this year, was stood down to a non-managerial position on Friday, a week after the pictures posted on his social media feed became the subject of media reports.
Government News understands a new role is still being sought for him.
DBCA Director Deneral Mark Webb said the images, reportedly dating back to 2010, weren’t reflective of the department’s values or the “outstanding wildlife conservation work” performed by staff each day.
“Subsequently, I have made the decision to remove Mr Crossberg from the acting district manager position in Esperance,” Mr Webb said.
“Future recruitment undertakings, particularly for leadership positions within the department, will prioritise strong values alignment with the department and any potential successful applicant.”
Background in ‘game reserve management’
The department originally said Mr Crossberg would keep his job and said he had previously disclosed his background in “African game reserve management”.
In a statement on July 3 DBCA said it had reviewed Mr Crossberg’s history and determined that his appointment in 2017 was in accordance with the Public Sector Management Act.
“Mr Crossberg has consistently performed his duties to the required standard. Earlier this year following a competitive recruitment process, a selection panel ranked him as suitable for a district manager position with the department,” it said.
But Premier Mark McGown said he was “appalled” by the photos and ordered an investigation into how Mr Crossberg came to be employed by a conservation agency.
“It shows that they should have done a Facebook Check, that’s for sure” he told journalists last week. “And I don’t know why they didn’t do that.”
On Friday deputy premier Roger Cook said the department had made the right decision to stand Mr Crossberg down and warned the incident contained lessons for government across the board.
“You really need to understand what drives the applicant that stands in front of you and understand all the things that have led them up to that point,” he told radio ABC Perth. “Including that you do all the appropriate background checks”.
Animal rights activists had been planning a protest before the department announcement Mr Crossberg’s removal.
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