More allegations of bullying at the Ministry for Children

Eight more social workers have alleged bullying and staff abuse at the Ministry for Children, Oranga Tamariki.

Raising serious questions about the culture inside the re-branded organisation, 1 NEWS can reveal there are now at least nine bullying complaints lodged by social workers - including intimidation, verbal abuse and stress-triggered medical issues.

Among the latest complaints uncovered, six employees have all pointed the finger at the same alleged bully - an Oranga Tamariki manager of three years.

Those complaints follow a 1 NEWS report last week on former social worker Susan Kennedy who says she tried to commit suicide after relentless bullying by her supervisor at Oranga Tamariki. WorkSafe is investigating her case.

Two of the latest eight complainants spoke to 1 NEWS on condition of anonymity. 

The first, who worked as a supervisor, said not only was she the subject to bullying, but she was also pressured to bully other staff.

"So many people in this community who have worked in that office have been so traumatised and are suffering Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and I don't believe anyone is actually safe in that office," she said.

"If I asked for help it seemed to aggravate things even more. If I stood up for other staff who I believed were being targeted and bullied, then I would be more targeted and bullied.

"There were a number of social workers that management wanted to get rid of. One of the social workers in particular, they used to try and get me to bully her, to manage her out. One of the techniques they would use would be to make me afraid of the social worker's judgement."

The second social worker, who has an ongoing dispute with the Ministry over her dismissal three months ago, said senior staff intimidated and belittled her to the point where if affected her physical wellbeing.

"It was so painful I ended up in the emergency hospital department one night because we didn't know at that stage what it was," she said. "I couldn't sit down, I couldn't lie down, I couldn't move. Then they found out it was actually shingles and it was caused by stress."

The woman says she's now struggling to pay her bills.

"My credit rating has now gone for the next two years because I can't pay my mortgage. I had to go to Work and Income - which is part of the building and part of the people we work with - and ask for financial help."

Last week Oranga Tamariki's chief executive Grainne Moss denied her organisation had a toxic culture. 1 NEWS also wanted to know why there have been so many complaints, including about members of management.

Ms Moss said last week: "We take all feedback that we get very seriously, the positive and the negative. The negative we do take into formal processes and investigate. 

"We have over 80 sites across the country, we need to continue to work with our communities to ensure all of our sites serve the communities with the best staff that we can find and develop."

1 NEWS also took the series of complaints about alleged bullying to the Minister for Children, who refused to be interviewed on camera.

Instead in a statement, Tracey Martin said this is "an operational issue as employment matters are the responsibility of the chief executive".

Ms Martin added she expects all staff in her departments to be well managed and well looked after.

Two other worker's say the toxic culture at Oranga Tamariki is affecting their work.
Source: 1 NEWS