It heartens me no end that New Zealand still possesses journalists who know their craft. George Block’s Otago Daily Times piece on Te Whare Pounamu is an excellent case in point.
I want to tease out a nuance of the piece. No-one has suggested the majority of front line staff at Women’s Refuge do anything other than sterling work. The serious allegations leveled at the management and governing body of Te Whare Pounamu were made by staff and corroborated by staff.
The summarised inter-agency appraisal produced by MSD essentially highlights some of the terrible practices and conditions that staff (some of whom are themselves former clients) endure and overcome while they get on with the job of helping women in distress and sometimes generating sentiments, the likes of which are expressed by Karen De Beer in the ODT piece, who was quoted –
“I will never be able to give enough gratitude for what these amazing women did for me.”
The piece goes on.
She also spoke highly of social worker Chrissy Thomas, a former Te Whare Pounamu worker who went public with what she said were abuses of power within the organisation.
Some dense people might be tempted to suggest there is a contradiction involved in someone speaking highly of Women’s Refuge staff on the one hand and speaking highly of Women’s Refuge staff on the other.
But the only voice that would appear to be casting aspersions on workers and ex-workers, if media reports are accurate, is that of Women’s Refuge CE Ang Jury, who seems terribly keen to defend or protect the reputations of managers and governing bodies that have been the focus of serious allegations involving theft, dangerously lax reporting procedures, and general bullying – allegations substantiated by two separate investigations that included interviews with numerous current and former staff members.
As said elsewhere, but it bears repeating. According to the MSD’s summary of the two investigations, current and former staff of an organisation dedicated to combating abuse and violence, feared for their own physical safety if they identified themselves, and so would only talk to investigators under the protection of anonymity.
Let that sink in.