Monday, July 15, 2024

New public service standards for working with disaster survivors

Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry, Andrew Little, has joined survivors of the nation’s most significant disasters to launch new expectations for how the public service will learn from the mistakes of the past and do better for survivors.

The Working With Survivors Model Standards were co-authored by the Stand With Pike Families Reference Group (FRG) and Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission. In partnership, the FRG led consultation with survivors of other national disasters, while the Commission led consultation with public service agencies, Police and Victim Support.

“New Zealanders remember our most significant national disasters – Aramoana, Cave Creek, Pike River, the CTV Building, March 15th, Whakaari/White Island and others. These are not pages in our history books. They are real stories of loss for Kiwi families and survivors. They are calls for us to learn the lessons and do what we can to prevent future disasters and better support survivors when they need it most,” Minister Little said.

“Following the 2010 explosion the Pike River survivors felt let down by the state. They say it would have made the biggest difference if: agencies had empowered survivors, were upfront, and had worked together for the benefit of all current and future survivors. That is what the new expectations seek to do.

“It means following and supporting the journey survivors go through. In the immediate aftermath it’s about the necessities of life and reuniting loved ones. Next it’s helping with the adjustment to the new normal. Finally it’s getting to the bottom of what happened, learning from it, and promoting healing.”

Floral tributes are placed on a fence at the Whakatane Wharf following the 2019 volcanic eruption at White Island.

A fundamental purpose of the completed Pike River re-entry project was to give the survivors closure and promote accountability, the Minister said. That required every part of the project to be conducted in partnership with the FRG and the families. This new approach was the genesis of the expectations, and the same partnership model was used for their creation, he said.

“The FRG wanted to give back to New Zealanders for their support. By leading the work to create the new expectations the FRG, and their partners including other survivors, have laid the foundation for better support for survivors and families who experience future tragedies,” Mr Little said.

The new expectations are a first step in a journey of continual improvement. They will be updated as survivors and public service agencies share their experiences and ideas, the Minister said.

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