2019-20 Submissions to Fire and Emergency

Below are summaries of our submissions developed with and on behalf of members

November 2019. Submission on Fire and Emergency NZ Organisational Structure and Approach to Rank Proposals Tranche 2b and 3.

The UFBA and FRFANZ supported in principle the rationale for change, and the overall intent of the proposal. We urged Fire and Emergency to take this opportunity to create not just transactional change, but also transformational change. Sustainable transformational change is dependent on appointing competent people/leaders (i.e. that have soft skills, qualifications and are highly competent) into positions that provide effective leadership that respects all personnel. Transformational change is long lasting but takes time to achieve. We noted the division of views between career personnel (some being more directly impacted) and volunteers (being indirectly impacted). We made a number of recommendations ultimately drawing focus on soft skills integration, improvement in psychological wellbeing support channels, and recognising how the scope of 'suitably qualified' could mean more than just fire related, particularly in relation to equal employment opportunities for volunteers with demonstrable capabilities.

December 2019. Submission to Fire and Emergency on Interim Shared Code of Behaviour and Policy to Address Bullying, Harassment and Victimisation

Through our involvement on the Respect and Inclusion Taskforce ongoing feedback has helped shape outcomes. Member feedback supported a desperate need for a Positive Workplace Culture Change. Some members expressed cynicism and examples of poor behaviour and both horizontal and vertical bullying at both brigade level and regional management level. We advised Fire and Emergency not to rely on passive adoption of information through access to displays and documents alone, and to differentiate material for diverse learner types. We also highlighted the need to address vicarious trauma - that being the exposure to other people's trauma - through building networks and links to upstanders and peer support, and also address vexatious behaviour on social media.

February 2020. Submission on the Fire and Emergency Dispute Resolution Scheme.

The UFBA supported the development of a volunteer scheme that, as an extension of a greater Complaints Process, was easy to access, supported by training for all managers and differentiated for different learner types and PC literacies. We did raise the issue that there was a lack of appeal process and ambiguity around time frames for resolution.

Other recommendations included reference for tikanga or marae-based processes to be included, greater clarity around confidentiality, inclusion of peer review mechanism to support transparency over conclusions and better accountability towards a continuous improvement process. Anecdotal feedback was highly critical of the present process and it was clear that communication, fairness, perception, and resolution needs to be improved. The UFBA Advocacy Advisor is working closely with the Fire and Emergency Behaviour and Conduct Office to help further develop the processes.