Bullying, harassment rife in Fire and Emergency New Zealand, report finds

Bullying and harassment is rife within New Zealand’s fire and emergency services, a report has found.

Firefighter Source: 1 NEWS

The independent review was released this morning and looks into workplace practices within Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ).

The report states there are still "unacceptable levels" of racism, sexism and homophobia.

The review group, chaired by retired Judge Coral Shaw and included survivor advocate Louise Nicholas, heard that bullying was often overlooked, downplayed or excused because the perpetrator was perceived to be a "hero firefighter", an important manager, a long-service volunteer with connections in the community or a Union member.

It said the status of these people enabled them to bully and harass.

Of those who participated in the review, 45 per cent reported witnessing or experiencing bullying and harassment.

Types of bullying and harassment included staff being belittled and ridiculed, excessive teasing, jokes, sarcasm or malicious gossip, humiliation in front of colleagues and verbal abuse or degrading language.

One participant said they had "witnessed team leaders and higher make sexist, racist, homophobic and transphobic comments openly at work - no repercussions".

The report recommends the service needs to adopt a new set of values, Code of Behaviour and make it easier to report incidents of bullying and harassment.

FENZ said it will make changes immediately but has also adopted a three-year plan to tackle the issues.

It said it has accepted all 33 recommendations made in the report.