Reputation damage to a Queensland university from their VP’s hateful social media post

By Sue Parker

Monday January 31, 2022

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Personal reputations and organisation brands can risk insurmountable damage from social media. (Aleksei/Adobe)


With power and profile comes responsibility. Leadership positions of significant economic and community custodianship bring even statelier obligations.

The reputations and trust of senior leaders and their employers (private or public sector) can be negatively or positively impacted by social media conduct. Many organisations have social media policies to mitigate damage but many don’t.

I am not in the habit of calling out individuals, but I do address behaviours and attitudes to bring awareness of best practices and brand management. Due to a post on LinkedIn last week on the Tame/Morrison photograph issue, it’s appropriate to call an individual out.

What follows is not designed to further the debate on the Tame/Morrison issue. My purpose is to spotlight the immense organisational, social and personal brand damage caused by careless and venomous social media posts.

The vice president of global development for Central Queensland University, Alastair Dawson, put up a divisive, irresponsible and hateful post gaining wide backlash in comments and discussions.


The post included (spelling errors kept as written):

“her behaviour will be seen as nothing more than a spoilt brat who is undeserving of the Australina of the ayear Award. So glad her term is over as is her fifteen minutes of fame.”

Quite ironic and disturbing given Dawson is a senior leader in the sector of which Tame’s abuse occurred — education!

All links on his profile to current and prior employers have been removed, with his headline stating “views expressed are definitely my own”.

But such a lame caveat does not and will not give him the university and other stakeholders’ reputation protection. Google doesn’t remove links, and an immediate search shows his workplace here. This is a testament to how important LinkedIn and Google search is. No one can hide!

This post and the author’s refusal to answer any responses is a striking example of how personal reputations and organisation brands risk insurmountable damage from social media. It’s one thing to write an opinion with respect and decency. But it’s another to share bile and hate from a senior leader. This applies to any topic, professional or expert.

I wonder what or if CQ University will enact discipline, as this wasn’t the first time hateful posts have been uploaded on a range of topics. Form is something that needs a nuanced lens in reviewing reputation damage.

The post is indicative of many elements of grave concern on so many levels. At the end of the day, can organisations and government do more and better to protect their reputations by clear and respectful social media policies?

Is turning a blind eye and allowing a senior leader to cause reputational damage really wise?

What value is created from a leader with influence being so cruel? What good comes from a post on social media that creates hurt and distrust?

With power and profile comes responsibility, and never more so than in an election year of party politics. Organisations and leaders must do better in a world recovering from so much pain and challenge.


ABC warns staff against ‘poorly judged’ social media activity

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