New ORC policy on concerns

Cr Hilary Calvert. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Cr Hilary Calvert. PHOTO: ODT FILES
A robust whistle-blower policy benefits any organisation, Otago regional councillor Hilary Calvert says.

Cr Calvert, who is chairwoman of the Otago Regional Council audit and risk subcommittee, asked council staff last year to present theirs.

And tomorrow, the council’s new whistle-blower policy will be presented to the subcommittee.

‘‘A good whistle-blower policy allows for those who know the most about what is happening to bring serious issues to the attention of someone independent of the management structure,’’ Cr Calvert said yesterday.

‘‘None of us know what we would find out when staff, or ex-staff, and councillors are enabled to be frank about any serious concerns they may have.’’

The policy added an opportunity to pick up anything happening at the council that was significant and inappropriate.

It was ‘‘one of the checks and balances’’ required to make sure the council was operating in the best interests of the community, she said.

Council corporate services general manager Nick Donnelly said the council did have a whistle-blower policy before this one.

But it was from 2001.

And the use of an independent agency for all complaints in the first instance was new, he said.

Included in Mr Donnelly’s report to the subcommittee is a flyer distributed to council staff in February, this year, advising staff how to report serious concerns.

‘‘There’s now a dedicated external service available for anyone to blow the whistle on serious wrongdoing at the Otago Regional Council,’’ it said.

The council’s new whistle-blower policy includes a requirement to report a summary of complaints to the subcommittee on a six-monthly basis.

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