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WINZ staff face daily abuse from clients

#1 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 19 November 2015 - 03:31 PM

The tragic events in Ashburton on September 1, 2014, may well have helped ensure staff, and others (including clients), reported these incidents that has resulted in an increase in the number of reported incidents.

With the freshness of such a terrible incident, and other incidents around the country, it is natural to have an increased awareness of what is occurring around a person along with hyper-vigilance.

Auckland WINZ staff face daily abuse from clients


Last updated 10:20, November 19 2015

Serious incidents reported at central and west Auckland Work and Income offices have more than tripled in one year.

Figures released under the Official Information Act show there were 798 incidents between clients and staff from September 2012 to September 2015 at nine Work and Income offices.

These included Grey Lynn, Mt Eden, Onehunga, Tamaki, Avondale, Westgate, Waitakere, Waipareira and Glenmall branches.

Over the course of a year, starting September 1, there were 196 incidents in 2012-2013, 250 in 2013-2014 and 352 in 2014-2015.

There were 35 serious incidents recorded from 2014 to 2015, compared to 11 the year before.

Work and Income deputy chief executive Debbie Power says the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) defines a serious incident as one which could include physical harm which requires medical treatment. It could also include threats made with intention to harm, stalking or intimidation of staff.

Sue Bradford from Auckland Action Against Poverty
says the important question to ask is why these incidents are happening in the first place.

"It is getting a lot harsher for people who need Work and Income as more reforms on welfare have been introduced.

"These people are already in a very vulnerable situation so when they turn up to WINZ for help and they find they are being cut off from a certain benefit … it does not take much for a situation to escalate," Bradford says.

Moderate incidents are the most common, with 308 occurring between 2014 to 2015, which is 77 more than the year before.

"Moderate incidents include assaults where there is no injury," Power says.

The Waitakere Community Link had the highest number of incidents over the three-year period, totalling 169, with 12 being serious.

An MSD spokesperson says the annual increase in numbers is due to a zero-tolerance approach being adopted towards threatening and abusive behaviour.

This came in the wake of the tragic events in Ashburton on September 1, 2014, the spokesperson says.

"Our frontline staff continue to be encouraged and supported to report all incidents and near-misses, and this has resulted in an increased number of reported incidents," the spokesperson says.

- Stuff

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