Investigators have been called into Queensland's Government House following bombshell claims workers were subject to relentless bullying and harassment which pushed one to the brink of suicide.

Queensland Governor Paul de Jersey has ordered independent investigators from McGrathNicol to explore allegations made by former employee Donna Rideout that staff working in the Office of the Governor were regularly put down and sworn at.

Mrs Rideout claimed frequent "narcissistic and manipulative" behaviour of staff members saw her repeatedly break down in tears at work and said she "seriously contemplated suicide".

In an email to Government House Staff, Mr de Jersey - who is not accused of wrongdoing- said he "was very saddened" to learn of Mrs Rideout's claims published in The Courier-Mail earlier this month.

"A safe and effective workplace is my highest priority for all staff," he wrote.

"Any current or former staff concerns of mistreatment have in the past, and will in the future, be subject to a thorough and confidential investigation.

"I, no doubt like you, was very saddened to learn of Mrs Rideout's health issues and specific allegations in the media … her allegations of mistreatment are taken seriously by me."

Donna Rideout, former Government House assistant, was driven to the brink of suicide after suffering years of bullying and gaslighting while working at the Fernberg Estate. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Donna Rideout, former Government House assistant, was driven to the brink of suicide after suffering years of bullying and gaslighting while working at the Fernberg Estate. Picture: Nigel Hallett

Mr de Jersey, who is approaching the end of his seven-year tenure as Queensland's Governor, has ordered a "thorough and independent investigation" into the allegations.

About half-a-dozen employees have a similar story to Mrs Rideout, prompting them to form a "Government House survivors' group" to share experiences and offer support.

On March 22 the Governor's Official Secretary Mark Gower wrote to Mrs Rideout to notify her an independent investigation had begun.

"Allegations of this kind are taken extremely seriously by the Governor and the Office of the Governor," the letter to Mrs Rideout said.

"Rest assured your concerns about your allegations will be dealt with confidentially and independently of the Office."

Mrs Rideout welcomed the appointment of an independent investigator to allow staff to "speak freely".

"I'm happy an independent inquiry has been launched," she said.

"Hopefully it will allow me to move on and put this chapter of my life to bed."

A spokesman from the Office of the Governor has previously said the welfare of current and former staff "is of paramount importance to the Governor and the Office of the Governor".

He said allegations detailed by Mrs Rideout were taken seriously and dealt with confidentially and consistent with Government House policies.

Originally published as Investigators called to probe Government House bullies


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