Positive Workplace Culture Programme

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Positive Workplace Culture Programme

To address the findings of the Review, the Positive Workplace Culture Programme was established.

It’s important we build a Fire and Emergency where everyone feels safe, welcome and included. Changing an organisation’s culture is a long-term commitment and we will keep working on this as long as it takes.

We are making  progress.

Since the review was released, we’ve been working to build an organisation with a respectful and inclusive culture and with better support for our people.  We are:

  • Actively working to remove the barriers to reporting. Last year we introduced an updated  complaints process to improve our current process and make it easier for our people to report unwanted behaviour. The complaints process is available to anyone who wants to raise a complaint of bullying or harassment by Fire and Emergency people, or to seek information about the options and process for resolving complaints. The process is an additional channel designed to give people confidence that their issue is received by someone independent from the incident or issue.
  • Establishing a dedicated Behaviour and Conduct Office which will be the centre for education and training on values-based behaviour and where our people can report unwanted behaviour. The Behaviour and Conduct Office has been coordinating complaints of bullying and harassment while a more comprehensive proposed design is developed to establish the Behaviour and Conduct Office.
  • Launching a video campaign for our people focused on raising awareness of bullying and harassment and encouraging people to take action.
  • Releasing a new Code of Behaviour which outlines how we expect people to behave and better equips us to address unwanted behaviour earlier.
  • Establishing a new policy to address Bullying, Harassment and Victimisation. The Policy will define what behaviour is classified as bullying and harassment and outlines the process for people to report unwanted behaviour, including sexual harassment, and the range of support services available to them. We have worked with experts in the field, including the Sexual Abuse Prevention Network, when creating this Policy. Following advice on best practice in this field, we will also develop a stand-alone policy and procedure to address sexual harassment.

But we know there’s still more work we need to do.

It will take time but we are making sure the right support systems, training and tools are in place so we can address unwanted behaviour and better support our people. 

Our process for dealing with complaints

Bullying and harassment of any nature have no place in our organisation. We want people to feel safe to report unwanted behaviour and know their complaints will be taken seriously. 

We have many channels available for our people to report unwanted behaviour. Options include going through HR managers, their direct manager or another manager, a union or association representative, a peer supporter, local safety health and wellbeing representatives, support services that are free of charge such as EAP or through our Positive Workplace Culture team. Where we receive a complaint about sexual harassment that could meet the criteria for a criminal investigation, we encourage the complainant to go to Police. 

Our process for dealing with complaints is that we first engage with the complainant or their representative to gather information about the complaint, determine their preferences for how it should be managed and provide any support required.  An initial assessment is then carried out to determine the most appropriate course of action. Depending on the circumstances, this could be an informal intervention (e.g. mediation) for minor incidents where it is safe and appropriate to do so, through to a formal investigation and/or referral to the Police.  If a formal investigation is initiated, this can be managed internally within Fire and Emergency or externally through an independent provider.

If the public or volunteers believe their complaint has not been reasonably resolved, they can access our disputes resolution scheme. The dispute resolution scheme does not cover employees, as they are able to seek recourse under employment law.

The permanent disputes resolution scheme will be independent as required by the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act 2017 (Part 4, subpart 5).  This is achieved by contracting a third party/parties to operate the scheme.

As required by the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act 2017, we publicly consulted on the proposed scheme earlier this year once it had been developed.

In the meantime, we have had a dispute resolution process in place. People can access that support at any stage, including prior to lodging their complaint.

This allows people to talk to someone that is not their manager about their issue and talk through options for a resolution. The response for dealing with the issue still lies with the organisation.