Six months ago we released an action plan detailing how we would address all 33 recommendations outlined in retired Judge Coral Shaw’s independent review into the workplace policies, practices and procedures to address bullying and harassment at Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

At that time I committed to reporting on our progress every six months. Tomorrow, we’ll publicly release our first Positive Workplace Culture six-monthly progress report. I wanted to share it with you ahead of its public release.

Judge Shaw’s report was confronting and highlighted a clear need for change to remove unwanted behaviour from our organisation. We knew bringing together cultures from 40 different organisations and building a collective, positive workplace culture would take time, and we’re making good progress.

Our first six-month progress report

In this first six months we have focused on addressing the most urgent priorities highlighted in the Action Plan, and on establishing foundational processes and practices.

We have also continued to progress a number of initiatives that have been underway for some time and will help us build a safe, welcoming and inclusive place to work and deal with unwanted behaviour.

Some of the highlights noted in this report include:

  • We’ve launched four values that guide the way we should behave and the expectations we have of each other. 
  • We’ve established an interim complaints process while we continue to develop a permanent process. The interim process enables you to seek information and support from someone independent from the incident or issue you’re dealing with.
  • We’ve appointed an interim director to help establish the Behaviour and Conduct Office (BCO). This new national office will be responsible for education, training, support and guidance relating to values-based behaviour.
  • 727 of our people have attended Psychological Wellbeing Workshops and 310 leaders have attended our awareness-raising Bullying and Harassment Awareness Workshops across the country.

You can read the full report on the Positive Workplace Culture Portal page today. Tomorrow, it will be publicly available on our Positive Workplace Culture webpage(external link). This webpage outlines all the work underway that is contributing to creating a positive workplace culture.

Consultation update

We’re now almost half-way through consultation on proposals for our organisational structure and approach to rank.

It’s important that we hear from as many people as possible, so I encourage you to read the information and to give your feedback. You can find out more at www.considerthis.co.nz/fenz(external link) or on the Portal. Remember, consultation closes at 5pm on 16 October 2019.

What won’t change

I do want to clarify that we’re not proposing any changes to our command and control policy. As is the case today, everyone who commands incidents will have the skills, experience and assessed competency to do so, appropriate to the incident type.

Nor are we proposing any change to how rosters work, or to the structures, ranks or responsibilities of stations and brigades – either now or in the foreseeable future.

Information sessions

There’s been a great response to the information sessions about the proposals, where you can hear from members of the ELT and SDLT and ask questions. We’ve added three video conference sessions for those who can’t make a face to face event, on:

  • Wednesday October 2, from 2.30 to 3.30 pm
  • Friday October 4, from 9am to 10am
  • Wednesday October 9, from 6 to 7 pm

All Fire and Emergency people are welcome to attend any of the sessions; please check the schedule on the Portal and email engagement@fireandemergency.nz with the session you’d like to attend so we can manage logistics.

Respect for each other

I know there are some strong views about the proposals. That’s appropriate and welcomed. What isn’t acceptable however are comments that target individuals or fall short of the behaviour we expect. We have committed to a respectful workplace, and that extends to behaviour outside of work that may reflect poorly on us as individuals, or on our organisation.

Please ensure that you express your views in a way that upholds the trust the public puts in us.

If you need any support during this time of change, please make sure you access the range of options available to you.

 

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