Overall, the amalgamation was not a success. In fact, it can serve as a text-book example of how not to undertake an amalgamation, despite the best intentions of the individuals involved. Discussions with staff during this Inquiry and the employee survey results demonstrated unequivocal condemnation of both the process and the outcome. Not a single survey respondent considered that the preparation for the amalgamation was adequate.

Employee perceptions of preparedness for a number of amalgamation components were compared, including perceptions of training, policies/procedures, rosters, daily regime, blending staff cultures, intelligence gathering and information sharing, and working across centres. Over 40 per cent of staff noted that all aspects of the amalgamation were “very unprepared”.

Examination of mean survey scores suggested that there was particular disdain towards rosters and the lack of policies/procedures for the merged facility. However, there was an overall similarly high level of disapproval for each component. Approximately one-quarter of the respondents to the survey felt that the amalgamation directly contributed to the riot. It was clear that the amalgamation remained an open wound for a large proportion of the workforce and its failure had undoubtedly contributed to the high levels of staff absenteeism and overall poor morale in the centre pre and post-riot.

No single individual was responsible for this failure. Nor was there a single point in time where all the mistakes were made. Rather, it was a culmination of numerous errors over a period of time. These errors included:

  • Lack of change management expertise and a detailed change management plan;
  • A simultaneous change in three levels of management six months out from the amalgamation date;
  • A freezing of almost all amalgamation processes at a time when a number of crucial policies had not been completed;
  • Lack of project management support;
  • Focus on the building work delays to the detriment of all else; and
  • The lack of staff ‘buy-in’ to the amalgamation.