Fire and Emergency New Zealand is an organisation that takes care of the physical and psychological wellbeing of all our people. We’re also creating an environment where everyone feels safe, welcome and included, regardless of gender, ethnicity, role or thinking; one that embraces the diversity of all our people.

We’re doing this because it is the right thing to do.

Last week ACC announced a new tool for assessing operational firefighter cancer claims. This is a welcomed addition that we know is already making a difference for our people, but we know there’s a lot more to do in this space. Nothing is more important than keeping all Fire and Emergency people safe and well. If you haven’t already seen it, please read the update from Brendan Nally, DCE People, on the Portal.

Looking ahead, next weekend features two events where we will publicly demonstrate our commitment to building a respectful and inclusive Fire and Emergency.

On Saturday 7 March I’ll be joining a number of our personnel in Wellington’s annual Pride Parade. Our involvement in this colourful and fun event is a powerful signal that we are proud of the diversity in our organisation and in our communities. Thank you to those representing Fire and Emergency – I look forward to seeing you there.

Sunday 8 March is International Women’s Day; marked globally, and focused on celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, and on calling for equality.

We have a proud history of women responding to emergencies in New Zealand, but the journey for some in our organisation hasn’t been easy. I want to acknowledge our female personnel and all those who have supported and championed for them. The support and connections for women at all levels of our organisation via the Women in Fire and Emergency NZ network (WFENZ) is hugely valuable as we create a modern fire and emergency service for New Zealand.

I encourage you to find out more about WFENZ via the Portal and support International Women’s Day events in your area.

A great example of how we’re building a positive culture is the “Crew Conversations” pilot we’re delivering with the New Zealand Professional Firefighters Unions (NZPFU) at five career stations. These facilitated sessions with our firefighters will explore what language and behaviour is ok on-station and what’s harmful; you can read more about what’s happening on the Portal. I look forward to hearing how these sessions go.

We’re putting so much focus on building a positive workplace culture because unfortunately, the culture across many parts of our organisation has fallen short in the past. Bullying and harassment have no place at Fire and Emergency. Sadly, we know there are still people in our organisation who are subject to it.

That’s why we’ve established the Behaviour and Conduct Office (BCO) as the central point for support and guidance on values-based behaviour. One of the BCO’s roles is to help our people confidentially raise their bullying or harassment complaints through a timely, transparent, trusted and fair process. Up to now, the process has been co-ordinated by an external provider, Humankind.

Today the coordination function moves in-house – a further positive step as we work towards developing our permanent bullying and harassment complaints process solution. Look out for more information on the Portal.

Today we’re also taking the first steps to stand up the new structure of the Office of the Chief Executive. This is the first NHQ branch to change following the decisions announced on 30 January. There has been one change I’d like to make you aware of. At that announcement, Raewyn Bleakley (DCE OCE) highlighted that we are focused on ensuring all functions are fit for purpose and can deliver great service to the rest of the organisation.

Raewyn has started the process of undertaking an independent review of the Assurance function and in light of this we have decided to suspend implementing any changes to this part of OCE until after the review. The rest of the changes related to OCE will be implemented as planned. You can read more about these changes and the wider organisational design changes on portal.

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