Bill’s Blog - Mental health, merger and FENZ consultation

  Posted on 10th September 2018 by Nick Cottrell in UFBA blog, Event News, UFBA News

Mental health and wellbeing

UFBA management are committed to supporting good mental health and wellbeing and actively advocating to put the issues of mental health and safety in the workplace on the map. Raising awareness of and tackling the “stigma” around mental health is of prime importance through a range of interventions to tackle the issue. This is because “stigma” can often prevent people struggling with mental illness from seeking the help they need, often through fear of losing employment or opportunities for career enhancement. We all need to create a culture of safety, inclusiveness and support in the workplace for the benefit of the 1 in 5 of us that may need help!

Kevin Ihaka from FRFANZ and myself along with Derek Best from NZPFU attended a seminar on mental health and wellbeing at work at Te Papa on the 28th August. The seminar, hosted by the Government Health and Safety Lead was very enlightening and inspirational. Our attendance was generously sponsored by the FENZ Director, People and Capability Brendan Nally.

One of the keynote speakers was Mary Deacon, Chair of the Bell “Lets Talk” programme in Canada. One in 395 Canadians work for Bell Telecommunications making it the largest single employer of Canadians. The company invests heavily in mental health and has contributed nearly $7million to the national cause. 1 in 4 Canadians experience some form of mental distress and the work of this programme is already benefitting Canada. You can learn more about “Lets Talk” and a communication toolkit HERE

Nicole Rosie, Chief Executive of WorkSafe New Zealand pointed out that 1 in 5 New Zealanders in the workplace were suffering some form of mental distress. This is a staggering statistic. There are many triggers for mental distress. Some occur outside the workplace and are bought in, others occur within. The trauma associated with the work of firefighters is acknowledged but perhaps less understood are triggers associated with workplace bullying and harassment.
The UFBA runs ongoing two-day Leading Psychological Wellbeing Workshops for our members, which have proven incredibly popular leading to twice the number funded this year. We encourage everyone who completes the complementary Leadership & Governance workshops to make the most of these fully funded courses and you can sign up via our website.

Mental Health awareness week begins 8th October. Keep an eye on our communications that week for more information and mental health will be a topic for discussion at this year’s AGM and Conference in Wellington.

We have been made aware of a “need to talk” support service set up by the Ministry of Health in June 2017. It is available to all New Zealanders. Call or text 1737 free from any landline or mobile, 24/7. The service is designed to meet the needs of anyone who wants to talk to a counsellor and is not tied to a specific mental health issue of condition.  FENZ also provide a range of confidential wellbeing services such as EAP.


Provincial Association Executives meet with the UFBA Board every year for a two-day event to discuss ways we can work closely together for the benefit of all members. On the second day, the Provincial teams are invited to sit in on a regular Board meeting to get a feel for how the Governance of the national organisation works in practice and the nature of the business the Board are engaged in. This year’s meeting was held in Wellington 26th-27th August.

The feedback we received from the roadshow on the UFBA/FRFANZ merger proposal along with recent feedback received by each Provincial Association was heard very clearly and discussed at length. The draft rules were also discussed and it was unanimously agreed that more work is required in light of members’ feedback.

The Board have determined that regardless of the final shape of the proposal, a set of “core pillars” must be built upon. They are:

  1. Preserve the existing honours and awards system
  2. Preserve the existing Competitions and events and look for new opportunities
  3. The role of the Provincial associations must be strengthened and supported
  4. The Association will be the keeper of all “historic records”
  5. The Association will represent all volunteers and volunteerism
  6. The Association will continue to provide a range of benevolent services
  7. The Association’s new operating model will mirror that of the FENZ operating model
  8. All current membership types will be maintained

We encourage members to continue providing feedback to us in this important change. To assist that conversation a set of frequently asked questions (and answers) will be posted to our website and sent out through the normal communication channels.

FENZ Consultation Process

In our last Enews we highlighted the formal consultation process regarding the FENZ Operating Model that commenced almost two weeks ago and concludes at 5pm, Friday 19th October 2018. We encourage you all to have your say either through “Considerthis”, a manual submission, a submission through your local leader (Chief, Controller or Unit OIC) or through us. We are preparing to produce a detailed joint submission from the UFBA/FRFANZ national body. The first step in this process has been to set up a small group of individuals from a wide cross section of our membership to analyse the proposals and propose responses in each area. This group meets in Wellington on the 21st of September. In addition, we will be polling/surveying the wider membership in key areas to ensure we can capture the most consistent voice of the membership.

Best regards and stay safe out there.

Bill Butzbach, UFBA CEO

1 Comment

17 Sep 18

I would endorse the comments from Bill on the Consultation Process and urge all leaders to encourage your members to review the documents and make submissions where appropriate. In particular I encourage the use of the Considerthis platform.
I have just completed my first week of an engagement in the Operating Model Workstream and I’m happy to receive questions or comments that I can put forward in the various workshops and meeting that I attend.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to have a say in the shape of the new organisation please use it wisely.
Glenn Williams
Vice President
United Fire Brigades Assn of NZ and
Integration Advisor
Operating Model Workstream

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