South Wairarapa District Council in the pink

Staff at South Wairarapa District Council are joining many people around the country today wearing something pink for Pink Shirt Day.

Pink Shirt Day has become a popular way of taking a stand against bullying and intimidation.

Sadly, a number of our staff have been subject to nasty comments or abusive behaviour, including this year.

While we understand people can get frustrated about the length of time it may take to get things done, it’s not really fair to the receptionists, our librarians, planners, staff rescuing a wandering animal or investigating a noise complaint, contractors fixing a road or leak – or any of our team.

Council staff are just like you – doing a job, being part of a team and getting results. We are part of your communities, and we love making a difference where we can.

Paul Gardner, the Council’s Interim Chief Executive, says the Council has a zero tolerance policy for bullying behaviour.

“Under our obligations as a good employer, it’s important that our workplace is a healthy place for our staff both physically and psychologically.

“Our organisational values and culture also demonstrate our obligation towards a truly inclusive workplace. It is important people feel they can bring their whole selves to work.”

Mayor Martin Connelly said it was appreciated that there had been changes of late in how members of the community had been engaging with Council officers, which indicated the Council was on a positive pathway to the future.

Areas where Council staff have faced abuse include social media. Criticism is expected, healthy debate is encouraged, but less than respectful comments about the hard work we do can be demoralising at best and corrosive over time. Many Councils around the country report that it can be hard to recruit the skills needed because of this.

“We have channels where people can complain about services – the get it sorted portal on our website is one – and our elected representatives are always keen for community feedback,” says General Manager, Communications and Engagement, Sheil Priest.

“Those feedback channels are an essential part of democracy. What we hope is that people don’t forget the Council has a human face. We are you.”

We encourage everyone to follow our Facebook page, subscribe for updates to our website or attend our meetings to get a better understanding of how we operate.

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