Bill’s blog: Merger, Conference, FENZ and Wellbeing

  Posted on 16th July 2019 by Nick Cottrell in UFBA blog, UFBA News

Tenā koutou katoa
It’s been a while since I wrote to you all. The team in the UFBA office have been absolutely buzzing with activity – it’s an especially busy period for us all at the moment, but an exciting one.

Merger progress - watch this space

We’ve got progress on the merger – and we’ll be speaking to you soon about that. Our project manager David is developing a thorough proposal that we hope will please everyone… watch this space. We really encourage everyone to register on our site to sign up to our newsletter so others don’t miss out on updates and keep this conversation going in your brigades. Because we’ll need your involvement!

Conference 2019 - new format and better

Other projects of note include preparations for the conference in Horncastle Arena in November. Events manager Julia and the team are just finalising details on our keynote speakers and we have some top quality entertainment planned. Importantly this year we’re taking a new approach after listening to your feedback. We know the AGM element, with all its formalities is required by our constitution but it’s not everyone's “cup of tea”. It is a time to discuss and vote on important matters however.

This year we’re streamlining the event to get all of those matters completed on the first day. It means the full programme over the following day and a half will be more international and local speakers including a full session with our Minister of Internal Affairs. Plus we’ve brought back break outs – these sections will allow choice over a few different guest speakers so you can get more of what’s relevant to you, from conference.

Youth engagement

The Pathways to Fire and Emergency – our youth engagement initiative – has gone from strength to strength under the management of project manager Angela. Read more later in this update. It’s heartening to see how many have engaged with this initiative which we hope will really help different types of brigades in different communities with a range of options to connect with young people.

FENZ changes

Working closely with Fire and Emergency through the second tranche management structure keeps myself, stakeholder manager Jo, our representatives and reference group extremely busy. Particularly around the high-level design of the restructure. We know FENZ will be coming out soon to you for consultation on these developments so again, being engaged ensures you remain an active part of designing services and support that impacts on you, the members. Jo and I have also been collaborating with the NZPFU on how to progress activity on the presumptive legislation around cancers and use of PFAS foams.

Psychological wellbeing

One subject absolutely close to my heart at the moment is that of psychological wellbeing. We truly cannot do too much in this area and there is always room for improvement. However, it’s comforting to know that Fire and Emergency have now introduced their own one day programme (which can support the Leading Psychological Wellbeing workshop we’ve run for almost three years). We’re taking a more targeted intervention at local hotspots where we’ve seen demand, with our next wellbeing workshop at Palmerston North end of August.

I strongly encourage everyone to get along to a workshop where the learnings may not only help yourself but allow you to help your fellow brigade members. We’re a family, so let’s be strong for each other.

While seeing an increase in the number of advocacy cases is potentially a sign of an increase in problems within brigades, it may also be a more positive sign that following the Independent Report by Judge Shaw, more firefighters are feeling confident to approach us and ask for help.

If you’re experiencing trouble in your brigade and you need an independent ear – call us!
Stay safe, keep well and keep involved.

Nga mihi,
Bill Butzbach, UFBA CEO

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