Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Public Service Commission orders FENZ complaint handling review

Deputy Public Service Commissioner, Helene Quilter QSO has today announced an independent review of Fire and Emergency New Zealand’s progress to address workplace culture and complaint handling practices.

Ms Quilter said the review will independently assess the progress that has been made since the Shaw report (2019) and identify what is working and what needs to be improved or accelerated in Fire and Emergency’s culture change programme.

Former Commissioner of the NZ Law Commission, Belinda Clark, QSO, has been appointed by the Commission to lead the review.

“Since the Shaw report, a number of current and former workers have raised concerns with the media and public service agencies about Fire and Emergency’s contemporary workplace culture and complaint handling practices,” the Commission said in a statement today.

“They say that there is a lack of accountability for inappropriate behaviour, complainant’s voices are not being heard in culture change initiatives, and there is limited trust and engagement with complaint handling processes.”

Fire and Emergency board chair Rebecca Keoghan, MNZM, requested the review.

Ms Quilter said it was important Fire and Emergency people, including complainants, had trust and confidence in the independent review.

“The review will help ensure people who volunteer or work for Fire and Emergency are provided with a safe, positive and inclusive work environment,” said Ms Quilter.

In 2019, Fire and Emergency asked retired Judge Coral Shaw to undertake an independent review into the organisation’s workplace policies, procedures and practices.

The review’s terms of reference will consider, make findings on, and report on:

  • whether the recommendations in the Shaw report have been implemented and the intended change realised;
  • whether Fire and Emergency’s implementation of the recommendations in the Shaw report and other related initiatives have been sufficiently impactful on organisational culture, particularly from the perspective of Fire and Emergency personnel;
  • any further steps that Fire and Emergency should take to strengthen its leadership and improve its systems, policies, procedures, and workplace culture, especially around the perspectives of complainants and the resolution of complaints about inappropriate workplace behaviour. This will include considering the experiences of individuals;
  • any other relevant matters identified by the Reviewer and agreed with the Deputy Public Service Commissioner.

The independent review will be conducted using the Deputy Public Service Commissioner’s powers under the Public Service Act 2020 and the Inquiries Act 2013.

Ms Quilter said she will not be making further comment until the review is completed.

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