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Work and Income revamp security in new-look offices after fatal shooting in Ashburton in 2014

Our social welfare provider has got a makeover in order to improve security in response to the Ashburton shooting in 2014 in which saw two employees were shot dead.

Work and Income’s new-look offices includes security guards but people will no longer be asked for their names at the door.

“Their job is to be there if there is someone that maybe exhibits some sort of behaviour that’s concerning, that's the only point they'll intervene,” Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said.

Mrs Sepuloni, as well as beneficiary advocates, are getting a tour of the new look site in Ōtara.

“The environment's great but equally how we deal with our people both on the phone, online and when they come here is just as important cause if you come here feeling ok you won’t get frustrated," Viv Rickard from the ministry told 1 NEWS.

Visitors will still have to be buzzed in with the improved security design allowing for a quick exit in case of a crisis but some doubt the changes will go down well.

“Hell no, they'll probably come in and say, you're spending all the money on the floor but what about our food grants," Kathleen Paraha from Auckland Action Against Poverty said.

“I think the general feeling that we're getting back from clients is that they do feel much more comfortable,” Mrs Sepuloni said.

There's a toilet for clients which hasn’t always been the case and there's a children's play area

The open plan office has been scrapped, there are now partitions for privacy.

“Conversations were being overheard depending on, for example I came through with some elderly families and because it's harder for them to hear the case manager had to speak up,” Wesley Talainamu, Fonuaola Social Service executive director, said.

Since the 2014 incident, 300 people are being trespassed from Work and Income every year, that's 1500 people in five years.

“I'd rather there were none, but you know at the same time occasionally things happen in these offices where staff feel unsafe and other clients might feel unsafe and in those instances trespass notices are sought,” Mrs Sepuloni told 1 NEWS.

It's hoped the new changes improve the relationship between clients and staff, they'll be rolled out to all 120 Work and Income offices within two years.  

The move comes in response to the 2014 Ashburton shooting which left two staff members dead. Source: 1 NEWS


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