Do staff in Public sector agencies that have been inquired into by the Royal Commission receive unconscious bias training?
Decisions to provide unconscious bias training are made at an individual Public sector agency level. We have been advised that a number of Public sector agencies do include some unconscious bias training for staff including the Department of Internal Affairs, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Government Communication Security Bureau, Immigration New Zealand, New Zealand Customs Service, New Zealand Police, the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service and Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission.
Do staff in Public sector agencies that have been inquired into by the Royal Commission receive cultural competency training?
Decisions to provide cultural competency training are made at an individual Public sector agency level. We have been advised that a number of Public sector agencies provide some cultural competency training for staff including the Department of Internal Affairs, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Government Communication Security Bureau, Immigration New Zealand, New Zealand Customs Service, New Zealand Police, the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service and Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission.
For example, Immigration New Zealand has developed an Intercultural Awareness Module, which has been available to staff since August 2012. Intercultural capability is also promoted on the Immigration New Zealand’s internal website with staff being encouraged to complete four online training modules.
What was the protocol for reporting on meetings between the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and non-governmental organisations?
The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet told us that staff are responsible for complying with all aspects of the Public Records Act 2005, including the requirement to create records as outlined at section 17 of that Act. The extent of notes and minutes will vary based on the formality and subject matter discussed at any individual meeting, but it is not its standard practice to provide copies of meeting notes to non-governmental organisations for comment.
Community engagement guidelines, consistent with the International Association for Public Participation’s quality assurance standard process for community and stakeholder engagement106 suggest that, besides a summary of what was said, best practice is to let participants know:
- how the information derived from the consultation was used;
- the extent to which their views influenced the final decision; and
- how any unresolved issues will be addressed.
What action was undertaken by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet regarding social cohesion before 23 March 2017?
The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet provided support to the Department of Internal Affairs’ budget bid in 2016 Programme to Strengthen Social Cohesion, which sought funding of $23.6 million over four years. The budget bid was unsuccessful. See Part 9, chapter 2 for more information on what happened after the 23 March 2017 meeting.
What, if any, expertise are staff employed by Public sector agencies to work on social cohesion required to have? Does the government require them to train in this area?
Staff recruitment decisions are made at an individual Public sector agency level. The agencies we investigated, including the Department of Internal Affairs, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Government Communication Security Bureau, the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service and Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission, generally told us that there were no particular expertise requirements for social cohesion roles – rather, they employed people with a wide range of relevant skills and experience.
What, if any, processes are in place to manage conflicts of interest when someone from a diverse community works for the government in a role that is dedicated to working with or supporting that same community?
Policies and practices for managing conflicts of interest are developed at an individual Public sector agency level. Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission has published Understanding the code of conduct – Guidance for State servants (2010), which states that:
Ensuring our actions are not affected by personal interests or relationships is essential if we are to be worthy of public trust. It is equally important that we do not act in a way that improperly benefits our family or friends or groups in which we have a personal interest.
We must avoid circumstances where our personal interests or relationships conflict with the interests of our organisation. We must also avoid situations where there could be an appearance of such conflict. Our actions need to be fair and unbiased and should always be able to bear close public scrutiny. An important part of strengthening trustworthiness is our commitment to transparency. Openness allows organisations to ensure that conflicts are avoided or managed. By being open with our organisation and disclosing non-work commitments, we enhance our trustworthiness.
What oversight is in place for the Department of Internal Affairs’ social cohesion programme?
The Department of Internal Affairs told us that it is not leading a social cohesion work programme at this time. It supports two main workstreams that are related to social inclusion:
- Engagement by the Office of Ethnic Communities with the cross-government social inclusion programme led by the Ministry of Social Development, which reports to Cabinet on progress (see Part 9, chapter 2).
- The Christchurch Call to Counter Violent Extremism Online project, which is sponsored by the Deputy Chief Executive (Policy, Regulation and Communities) and a senior officials' group that reports to a ministerial group.
Why did the Department of Internal Affairs decide to proceed with focusing on Hamilton from July 2017 when some Muslim communities had specifically requested a national strategy?
The Department of Internal Affairs told us that it decided to proceed initially with focusing on Hamilton to inform and influence government policy, ensure Public sector agencies' services were fit for purpose and culturally appropriate and identify practical solutions that were adaptable to various ethnic communities. This would then enable the approach to be refined and adjustments made in response to community feedback on appropriateness and effectiveness.
What consideration was given to creating programmes that would be run by Muslim individuals for their own community?
The Department of Internal Affairs told us that it (including the Office of Ethnic Communities) applies a community-led development approach. This approach consists of honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi obligations and applying the following key principles for community development:
- Shared local visions or goals drive action and change.
- Use existing strengths and assets.
- Many people and groups working together.
- Building diverse and collaborative local leadership.
- Adaptable planning and action informed by outcomes.
The Office of Ethnic Communities specifically uses the Ethnic Communities Development Fund to fund community members and organisations to advance their own programmes and initiatives (see Part 9, chapter 2).
We did not evaluate the effectiveness of the funding decisions or monitoring of the implementation and results of the approved projects.
What decisions and steps did the Department of Internal Affairs take after the final report on the Hamilton Social Cohesion Pilot was submitted in October 2018?
We have not seen evidence of any further steps taken by the Department of Internal Affairs after the final report on the Hamilton Social Cohesion pilot was submitted (see Part 9, chapter 2).
Who in the Department of Internal Affairs attended any countering violent extremism conferences or summits in the last five years and which ones were they?
The Department of Internal Affairs told us that no staff have attended any specific conferences or summits on countering violent extremism. However three staff from the policy group and digital safety team did attend a digital engagement conference in Australia in 2019.
Where did the money for the Department of Internal Affairs post-15 March 2019 come from – specifically funding for an additional 24 staff for the Office of Ethnic Communities and an additional $1 million for the Ethnic Communities Development Fund? Was that money available in 2018 to be used to support Muslim projects?
This new money was agreed by Cabinet and sourced from relevant funding provided by an Appropriation Act. This money can only be used for the purpose agreed by the Government, and none of it was available in 2018.
106. International Association for Public Participation Australasia, footnote 7 above.