Step 4B how do I assess evidence?

Not all evidence is of equal weight.

The following material draws on Guide 3, Decision Making, Administrative Review Council.

The reviewer evaluates the evidence, applies logic, common-sense and experience.


Consider the following…Examples


Evidence is more reliable if it:

  • is confirmed or verified from another independent source.
  • is contemporaneous with the event. A diary note made at the time is more likely to be reliable than someone recalling the details months later.
  • is first hand evidence rather than hearsay.

First hand: what a witness to the event says they directly observed.

Hearsay: what someone says they were told by someone else.

In harassment cases, review applicants may complain of incidences where there are no direct witnesses.

A reviewer identifies evidence that corroborates one or other of the parties to the incident, by:

  • contemporary records kept of conversations
  • the accounts of people who spoke to either party immediately after the incident and observed their behaviour
  • evidence of behaviour in other situations that might point to a pattern of behaviour.

Expert opinion

Expert opinion has greater weight.

Reviewers weigh expert evidence by considering:

  • the expert's area of expertise
  • if the expert is giving an opinion about something that is not in their area of expertise.

Absence of evidence

A reviewer does not need positive evidence of each and every matter.

An employee claims a manager has created a bullying culture but there is no evidence. It may be reasonable to conclude that this is not the case.

However, a lack of witness statements about bullying is not in itself evidence of a positive workplace culture. It may be a result of people being afraid to speak out about bullying.

Evenly balanced evidence

When evidence is evenly balanced or inconclusive, you can either:

  • make no finding, or
  • identify other avenues to generate evidence.

If the review applicant suggests relevant avenues, pursue them if practical.

A review applicant may dispute a performance rating. It can be difficult for someone outside the business area to form a view. In such cases, it may be appropriate to give more weight to the manager's opinion of the employee's performance than the employee's opinion.

Where the employee is to be managed for under-performance, reviewers may seek other informed views.

Such as:

  • a manager with relevant experience but works in a different area
  • an external expert.

Conflicts in evidence

People perceive and remember events differently.

Conflicting versions do not mean someone is lying.

It is generally better to focus on what the balance of evidence suggests is the truth of the matter.

For example, rather than focussing on who is more believable, instead consider which account is consistent with other evidence.