Proposal to repeal section 7AA – a BIG Mistake!

The Waitangi Tribunal has just released its Interim Report on the Minister for Children's proposal to introduce a Bill to Parliament to repeal section 7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989. The Minister's proposal was outlined in a Cabinet paper lodged with the Cabinet Social Outcomes Committee on 27 March.

Reading the Tribunal report, it's clear that there is no sound reason for repealing section 7AA and that no Bill to enact the repeal should be introduced to Parliament.

For those who don't have time to read the Tribunal Report and who want to know what "all the fuss" is about, we outline below "the basics" of the Minister's proposal to repeal along with the Waitangi Tribunal responses. We begin with an outline of section 7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act.

Section 7 AA

Section 7AA was enacted into NZ law in 2017 along with a number of other reforms. The broad reform aims were to improve outcomes for children in the statutory care and protection and youth justice systems and reduce inequities between Māori and non-Māori in these systems. (See Expert Panel Final Report Investing in New Zealand’s Children and their Families Investing in Children Programme, December 2015)

Section 7AA guides the  Chief Executive (CE) of Oranga Tamariki in its duty to give effect to Te Tiriti of Waitangi, particularly in relation to the Treaty obligations concerning partnership, equity and tino rangatiratanaga. Key provisions are that:

  •  Oranga Tamariki's practices, policies and procedures must have regard to mana tamaiti (tamariki) and the whakapapa of tamariki Māori and to the whanaungatanga responsibilities of their whānau, hapū, and iwi:
  • The CE must seek and respond to invitations to enter strategic partnerships with iwi and Māori organisations.
  • The CE must report publicly on the fulfilment of their duties under section 7AA including on the impact of the steps they have taken to improve outcomes for Māori.

What the Minister of Children is proposing and the Tribunal's response

The Minister of Children's proposal for legislation to repeal section 7AA rests on a number of suppositions/proposals outlined below.

Proposal

The problem is that tamariki are being moved from stable and loving placement for cultural reasons rather than because of their needs and interests. Section 7AA is the cause.

Tribunal Response

The Tribunal accepted that sometimes wrong decisions can be made.  However, no evidence was presented that section 7AA was to blame. The Tribunal and Oranga Tamariki indicated that wrongful removal of children from placements reflects poor social work practice at an individual level.

It's also relevant here that section 7AA is a Pou or cornerstone of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989. Unlike Parts 2 and 4 of the Act (provisions to guide care and protection and youth justice interventions), section 7AA doesn't guide decisions about the placement of a child.

Proposal

Section 7AA means that a child's best interests are not prioritised in case decisions and are overrode by a "misplaced" concern with cultural identity.

Tribunal Response

This is not true. In fact, evidence presented to the Tribunal indicated the opposite and that s7AA has resulted in material gains for young people in care.

Oranga Tamariki reported that tamariki now have more opportunity to connect with their culture and develop a sense of belonging. This protects against adversity and supports long-term well-being and is in children's best interests.

Te Puni Kōkiri submitted to the Tribunal that children's cultural needs must feature in any "best interests" consideration for a child because addressing cultural needs is essential to a young person's wellbeing and success.

Proposal

Decisions about children should be "colour blind".

Tribunal Response

The view that all children should be treated the same regardless of ethnicity reflects out-dated and now widely criticised views of equality.

More than 40 years ago, in the landmark Pūao-te-Āta-tū report this view of equality was criticised for having contributed to inequities between Māori and non-Māori in the care and youth justice systems. It is a woefully inadequate answer or guide to addressing the complex dynamics and impacts of colonisation.

Reducing equality to same treatment also fails to recognise that Māori, including tamariki, have particular rights under the Treaty including the right to live as Māori in Aotearoa.

Proposal

That section 7AA is causing harm to children and diverting people from a child-centric approach.

Tribunal Response

There is no evidence that s7AA is causing unsafe practice and harm to children.

Rather, evidence presented at the Tribunal indicated that the repeal of s7AA itself is likely to cause harm in a number of ways:

  • It will undermine the trust and confidence that has been slowly built between Oranga Tamariki and iwi/Māori
  • It will impede and undermine prevention and early intervention work
  • Tamariki may be more exposed to harm
  • Work to reduce inequities between Māori and non-Māori in care and youth justice is likely to slow down
  • There will be adverse impacts on the  safety, stability, rights, needs and long-term wellbeing of children involved with Ministry.

In conclusion

It seems incomprehensible that the Minister of Children wastes public time and money on a proposal lacking merit and integrity. It doesn't  address the problem she's concerned with. If it progresses to legislation it is likely to cause harm.

It rides roughshod over the good faith and hard work that has been done by iwi/Māori and her own Ministry to build relationships and processes that will achieve good outcomes for children and young people in care.

Let's hope that now, with the benefit of the Waitangi Tribunal's Report, the Minister will realise her mistake and look at how she can achieve more for children in care through closer working with iwi and Māori organisations.

A Comprehensive Guide: Identifying and Addressing Workplace Stressors

picture of man struggling to reinforce need for AI policy and procedures

In today’s workplace, you can’t just focus on physical hazards.  Psychosocial hazards like work stress, conflicts, harassment and traumatic incidents must also be considered. Mental wellbeing not just physical wellbeing of staff has to be the goal of a supportive workplace.

At the Policy Place, we reflect this focus for members of our online policy service throughout our health and safety policy suite.  But policy isn’t enough. Within any organisation or business the first important step to prevent mental harm and injury is to identify psychosocial hazards.

To help with this, we’ve prepared the following Action Plan that is based on the Model of Practice for Managing psychosocial hazards at Work produced by Safe Work Australia. Follow the steps in it and you’ll be able to identify key hazards in your workplace warranting management via your health and safety policy and procedures.

With this information, you’ll then be able to work with your staff to assess and mitigate risks like burnout, high turnover, and psychological harm and achieve a supportive work environment where both morale and productivity are high.

Action Plan: Identifying and Addressing Workplace Stressors

1. Conduct Comprehensive Hazard Identification 🔍

Identify all reasonably foreseeable psychosocial hazards within your business or community service.

2. Recognize Cultural Hazards:

🌐 Consider cultural factors that may contribute to psychosocial hazards, such as organisational norms, cultural diversity, values, messaging and communication styles.

3. Consultation with Workers: 🤝

Engage workers in the hazard identification process, including Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) if applicable.

4. Use Surveys and Tools:

📊 Employ surveys to gather information from staff, HSRs, supervisors, and members of the management team.

4. Observe Work and Behaviors:

👀 Observe the workplace environment, work practices, and interpersonal interactions.

5. Review Available Information:

📋 Review records of injuries, incidents, complaints, workplace inspections, staffing decisions, notes from exit interviews, absenteeism, policies, and more.

6. Identify Trends:

📈 Analyse collected information to identify trends in hazard occurrence (eg retention versus attrition in areas; absenteeism).

7. Establish Reporting Mechanism:

📝 Establish and promote ways for workers to report hazards, ensuring privacy and anonymity where possible.

8. Encourage Reporting:

📣 Address common reasons for underreporting and encourage workers to report hazards through various accessible channels.

9. Act on Reported Hazards:

⚠️ Take reported hazards seriously and implement appropriate control measures.

10. Adapt Reporting Systems Proportionally:

🔄 Tailor reporting systems to the organization’s size and risk profile.

Learning v Compliance Reporting and Tracking

Compliance reporting and tracking is associated with a tickbox mentality and is not as effective as a learning approach to compliance.

In organisations of many types, compliance reporting and tracking have led to a compliance-driven approach to operations.

However, a paradigm shift is now underway in the not-for-profit sector. Having long struggled to get staff on board with compliance and policy implementation, many nonprofit agencies are shifting from a compliance-driven approach to a learning-focused one.

In this blog, we’ll explore why a learning approach to compliance is superior to compliance tracking and reporting for an organisation that is required to meet regulations and standards like the Social Sector Accreditation Standards, Community Housing Performance Standards and Ngā Paerewa Health and Disability Service Standards.

1. Fosters a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Unlike compliance reporting, which often focuses solely on meeting minimum requirements and is backward looking, a learning approach to compliance encourages ongoing growth and development. By prioritising learning, agencies can foster a culture of continuous improvement, where kaimahi/staff members are empowered to seek out new knowledge, skills, and best practices.

2. Learning approach aligns with non-profit kaupapa

Nonprofit agencies typically have a person/whānau centred kaupapa and value the concept of voluntariness highly.  A learning approach to compliance aligns with this, particularly, these short online courses developed specifically for non-profit agencies in Aotearoa. The learning approach to compliance assumes that most people want to meet their obligations. It allows the broadest possible compliance at the least cost both to the agency and to the individual.

Online courses for policy implementation and compliance

3. Compliance reporting and tracking

Agencies accept these as a necessary evil. But compliance reporting and tracking can incentivise fast tracking and a tick-box mentality in an organisation. This can ultimately undermine an organisation’s capacity to improve and build quality of service and reduce staff motivation to innovate and “go outside of the box.”  Check out our previous blog about the disadvantages.

4. Drives Innovation and Creativity

Compliance reporting tends to focus on maintaining the status quo—ensuring that existing processes and procedures meet regulatory standards. In contrast, a learning program encourages staff members to think outside the box, explore new ideas, and experiment with innovative approaches. This is facilitated by interactive content like scenarios and quizzes in the Policy Place’s online courses.

The Policy Place brings a mix of skills to support legislative compliance of its policies.

5. Supports Engagement and Retention of Kaimahi

Research consistently shows that organisations that invest in employee learning and development experience higher levels of engagement and retention. A learning approach to compliance demonstrates to kaimahi that their growth and professional development are valued as much as the organisation values compliance with external standards. This contributes to greater job satisfaction and loyalty and to an organisation’s ability to retain and attract quality staff.

6. Builds skills and ability to comply

Interactive elements and engagement in online courses can help reinforce key concepts and information retention about requirements for compliance. They provide real-world examples and practical scenarios to illustrate how policy content is applied in different contexts.

This practical application helps staff understand the relevance of policy content and how it translates into everyday practices and decision-making.  Ultimately, it means that staff are better prepared for and empowered to meet their obligations.

Conclusion

While compliance reporting serves an important function in ensuring accountability and regulatory adherence, its limitations are increasingly apparent in the nonprofit sector. By embracing a learning-focused approach, nonprofit agencies can unlock a wealth of benefits—from fostering a culture of continuous improvement to driving innovation and creativity.

Ultimately, investing in learning programs isn’t just about checking boxes; it’s about empowering staff, enhancing organisational resilience, and advancing the kaupapa of human service agencies.

Onboarding staff to your policies and procedures

When onboarding staff you need introduce them to some key policies. But can you do that without boring them to death? And can you do it in a meaningful way?

Including policies in your onboarding process is important for many reasons. One, because policies and procedures help you manage risks and guide best practices in your organisation.  Secondly, because staff have to know the policies and procedures in order to implement them. Thirdly, because when and if “crunch time” comes, you won’t be able to rely on your policies and procedures if you’ve never taken the trouble to bring them to your staff’s attention.

At the Policy Place, we deal with many clients who talk about the difficulty of getting staff to read and apply policies and procedures. So be assured, you’re not alone with this challenge.

In this post, we’re going to look at two ways staff can be introduced to policies and procedures in an organisation.

picture of man struggling to reinforce need for AI policy and procedures

Option 1 – You’re killing me

This is when you start a job and are told to sit and read the policies and procedures, then sign off on them once done. In the old days the policies and procedures were a dusty old manual. More modern renditions might be on a Shared Drive or Online Platform like the Policy Place online policy service.

In our online policy service, we aim to make policy content more digestible and accessible. By using an online platform, we  reduce the typical density and repetition in organisational policies by using internal and external hyperlinks. We support policy implementation by providing training and other helpful resource links.

The Policy Place gets a lot of positive feedback for its online policies. However, no matter what form policies and procedures take and how hard we try to make them user-friendly, policies and procedures just don’t feature in people’s “top of the pops” list.

Typically, people try and avoid policies. It doesn’t make sense therefore for an organisation to ask new staff to read through their policies and procedures and sign off on them for induction. What an excitement killer!

It’s also a strategy that is unlikely to succeed. Reading policies without having the knowledge or chance to apply the content to real situations and issues, makes it hard to grasp and understand the policy content let alone apply the content.

Option 2 – YES I get it!

A much better way of onboarding staff to policies and procedures is through short online courses that cover off the “essentials” in policy area.

The courses need to be interactive and give staff the chance to apply what they learn to problems and scenarios.  The courses are not substitutes for the policies and procedures. But they should address “the essentials” and refer to your policies and procedures.

This type of course is now being offered by the Policy Place.

“Yes, I get it!” is how staff will feel at the end of one of the courses. The courses are interactive and give staff the opportunity through the courses to learn and apply key policy essentials in areas like health and safety and Abuse and Protection to real scenarios and problems. Other courses are in progress.

The courses get rid of the need for staff to have to read through and sign off on policies as part of their induction.

Most of the courses can be completed within 30-40 mins. Once completed, staff are issued with a certificate. This gives you the proof you need as a manager to assure yourself that staff do have the required understanding of key policies and procedures.

 Onboarding staff to “Yes I get it”

You can aim high now with your inductions – for your new staff to be motivated and to understand the essentials of your policies and procedures.  And with this as your starting point, policy implementation in your workplace looks a lot rosier!

Enrol NOW!

Supporting informed consent

It can be easier said than done regarding the right to give informed consent.

This right is particularly prominent in members’ policies covering Privacy, Child Protection and access to health treatment.  It is supported by the policy requirement for people to be given information in understandable ways.

But how do we ensure that people understand the information we provide or the form we ask them to sign? There will always be variables. The language, abilities, age and maturity of people we are working with will affect if and how information is understood. So will the nature and type of information and situation in which it is given.

But there are some general steps we can take to assist people to understand the information we give them or want them to know.

Steps to support understanding 

Plain language – Use plain and simple language and break down complexity. Avoid jargon and technical terms that can make it difficult for the average person to understand.

Translation – Offer and arrange for interpreters as necessary for verbal interactions; provide a translated version of the agreement, form or other information into the person’s primary language and ensure the translation is accurate.

Make it visual – Use aids such as diagrams, pictures, charts, or illustrations can help convey complex concepts. These can often make it easier for individuals to grasp the content.

Encourage and answer questions – invite questions, answer and provide further clarification as needed.

Allow time – people often need time to digest information gradually, discuss it with others and time to come back to you to discuss.

Documentation Offer a copy of the written form or agreement to the person in advance so that they can review it at their own pace and come prepared with questions.

Accessibility Support  Sse accessible formats and make provisions for Braille, large print, and digital text for screen readers, if necessary.

Simplify –  For complex information or if an agreement or form contains intricate or lengthy clausesbreak them down into simpler parts, explain each part separately and check understanding as you go.

Make it real – Offer real-life examples or scenarios to help make the information real and to show what it might mean in practice.  In this way, abstract concepts become much more tangible.

Proving Informed Consent

As a members of the Policy Place online service, most of you are subject to external audits and checks. It is therefore important that you document – the steps taken with people to assist their understanding of terms, information, agreement and to properly support them to make informed decisions.

There are many other aspects to the Informed Consent policy that need to be evidenced in individual files. But being able to show that staff are taking the steps needed to ensure people’s understanding oof information, forms etc is an important start.

 

Co-Governance in your organisation

Asks what is co-governance to correct misunderstanding?

Co-governance is a misunderstood and much-maligned concept in Aotearoa/NZ.  Although the current government does not support it as the basis for our health system, co-governance will continue to be of interest to organisations committed to bicultural and Treaty-based practice.

At the Policy Place, many of our clients and online members are deeply committed to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. In this post, we consider some governance and organisational arrangements to reflect this commitment and how policies and procedures can help.

Constitutional options for co-governance 

Co-governance refers to an equality model of decision-making. It gives practical effect to the Te Tiriti undertakings of good governance, honourable partnership and protection and respect for Tino Rangatiratanga of iwi, hapū.

There are different models of co-governance. See here and here for more.

In a business or social or health service context, co-governance arrangements might involve Constitutional requirements for:

  • the appointment of an equal number of Tangata Whenua and non-indigenous/Tau Iwi to a Board or other governance structure
  • all or some decisions to be referred and approved by Māori and Tau Iwi caucuses
  • parallel processes for Māori and non-Māori to make decisions, collaborate and access services
  • respect for the values, tikanga, reo and other taonga of Māori/mana whenua
  • kaupapa Māori – by Māori for Māori agency
  • recognition of He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni/The Declaration of Independence, Te Tiriti o Waitangi and NZ law
  • explicit recognition and encouragement for liaison between Kaupapa Māori, iwi-based and mainstream services
  • other arrangements as agreed between an organisation and mana whenua.

Policies and procedures to support co-governance

If you don’t have co-governance reflected in the Trust Deed or constitution for your agency, a Te Tiriti o Waitangi policy can be a great way to reflect and support a Treaty-based approach. See here for ideas on what can be covered in Te Tiriti o Waitangi policy.

Other policies and procedures to help give effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi will include those addressing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion policies; Board Membership and Recruitment policies for Board and Staff.

Training and Induction for co-governance

The importance of governance and staff induction and training should not be forgotten. These processes will tautoko co-governance and help build cultural competency across your organisation.

Board induction will introduce new Board members to your Trust Deed/Constitutional requirements and the Board’s role in setting the organisational vision and strategy.

Staff induction will include coverage of your organisation’s values and key policies, procedures and documents.

Conclusion

Co-governance can be achieved at constitutional, governance and operational levels of organisations.  It’s an important way to give practical effect to the undertaking of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and to steer an organisation in Treaty-based practice.

RiskManagement with the help of good policies and procedures

Bad or nil risk management can result in nasty surprises.

Risk management is a key reason for policies and procedures  –  risks like financial mismanagement, accidents, cyberthreats, privacy.

Take a broad view. No need to be afraid of risk. The wider your view of risk the better prepared you can be and the more able and confident you can feel in your business/organisation.

While risks will be unique to your operation, there are also risks that all of us in business need to manage.  At the Policy Place, we help organisations manage these risks with online policies that are regularly reviewed and updated and with other strategies like guidelines and checklists.

Some of the common risks for organisations are listed below, with some of the more common policies and strategies to help manage these risks:

Financial Risk Management 

  • Policy and procedures relating to financial planning and controls
  • Fraud and Corruption policy
  • Protected Disclosures policy
  • Financial Planning and Investment policies

Information Risk Management 

  • Preventative & Troubleshooting Maintenance Contracts
  • Privacy and Confidentiality policy
  • Record Management and Archiving system
  • Privacy Breach Procedure
  • Information Safeguards policy and procedure

Managing Economic & Political Risks

  • Media-related policies and processes
  • Hazard-management policy and procedure
  • Staff and Governance Recruitment Policies and Procedures
  • Strategic & Business Planning
  • Hazard & Risk Register

Health and Safety Risk Management 

  • Wellbeing policy and procedure
  • Health and Safety procedures including Hazard and Risk Register; Staff Participation
  • Induction and ongoing staff training
  • Pandemic Planning
  • Infection Control policy and procedures
  • Cultural Safety and Responsiveness policy and training
  • Harassment and Bullying policy and procedure

Service-related Risk Management

  • Complaints and Feedback Policy and Procedures
  • Performance and service planning and review processes
  • Quality Management policy and procedure
  • Training and development of staff
  • Policies to guide delivery
  • Business Continuity Plan

Why are policies and procedures important in 2024?

Policies help compliance with laws and regulations

In this post, we’ll look at why policies and procedures are important for businesses and organisations in 2024.  If you don’t want to end up at 2+2=5 then you definitely need your own policies!

Policies and procedures are our business at the Policy Place. We develop them and through our online system, keep them reviewed and updated for agencies.  Like it or nor, policies and procedures are essential for any organisation that doesn’t want to end up at 2+2=5 and here’s why.

Policies and procedures are important for compliance

Policies and procedures are important because they are required by various laws, regulations, and sector/industry standards.

The truth of this will depend on the nature and functions of your organisation. Some, but not all, of the following compliance regimes may  apply to your agency:

Policies and procedures to build a culture

In Aotearoa/NZ, we’ve seen how important human rights standards can be subject to populist and political whim. This can occur in organisations too if you don’t have policies and procedures to support your organisation’s kaupapa, values, and mission.

Policies and procedures help make the values of your organisation and business real.  They can help you build an organisation that is confident about its mission and place in the community and marketplace.

Policies and procedures for hard decisions

In one of our previous posts – Good Decisions need good policies – we looked at how policies and procedures are especially important for staff when it comes to having to make decisions about competing interests eg an individual’s right to personal privacy versus the right to life and staff responsibilities. Without policies and procedures, staff can feel alone and unsupported in their work; they may avoid or put off making decisions for fear of making the wrong decision; or they may make a decision contrary to the organisation’s kaupapa and interests.

Policies and procedures should afford staff enough scope to use their professional skills and respond to diverse situations.

But, policies and procedures are essential if staff are to be empowered to make tough decisions.

Making things simple

We’re subject to a lot of laws and regulation.  In the social sector, agencies are also subject to the Social Sector Accreditation Standards. In the health area, Nga Paerewa Health and Disability Services Standard applies. Equivalent standards and criteria apply in community housing, education, and training.

It can be hard to figure out what applies and there are risks that you can miss something important or get something wrong.

We deal with these challenges all the time at the Policy Policy when drafting policies. Be assured that with the right policies, complex obligations will be simplified so that it is easier to action them.

Achieving consistency

While we want staff to feel empowered to exercise judgement and make decisions, consistency of decisions across our organisation or business is important if we are to provide quality services and products and to maintain a positive reputation. Policies and procedures are crucial in this respect.  They establish guidelines for staff to follow and reinforce expected standards of conduct and service.

Efficiency gains

Last, but by no means least – policies and procedures can vastly improve efficiency. Good policies and procedures can be used to help with the onboarding of new staff to the workplace. As long as they are accessible to staff and up-to-date, policies also save time for managers and senior staff who can otherwise spend a lot of time answering questions and providing guidance to staff.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the importance of policies and procedures to organisations and businesses cannot be overstated. They are pivotal to thriving and resilient organisations in 2024. If you want help with updating your policies or are starting from scratch, get in touch.

Contact the Policy Place 0224066554

Transitional Housing policies at the Policy Place

Transitional & public housing development

If you’re a business or Not-for-Profit organisation wanting to get into Transitional Housing, The Policy Place can help you with the policies you need.

Accredited & Policy Place member

If you’re already a member of our online policy service and have Level 3 or above Social Sector Accreditation status, the job of getting your policies sorted for Transitional Housing will be straightforward.

Contact the Policy Place 0224066554Contact us to let us know your plans and we will set you up with the housing policies you may need.  We will review and may adjust your existing policies to ensure they align with your new housing policies and to avoid duplication of policy content.

Business 

If you’re a new or existing business that wants to get into Transitional Housing and you do not have current social sector accreditation, you will need policies and processes to support your application for Level 3 accreditation.

This could be a big change for you if you’ve been operating with minimal policies. For Level 3 accreditation you will need policies and procedures addressing a range of areas like Health and Safety, HR, Privacy and Confidentiality and Client Services.  You will also need policies and procedures to help you meet the requirements of the Transitional Housing Code of Practice.

Not-for profit 

You may be operating a not-for-profit agency that does not have Level 3 Social Sector Accreditation because you haven’t been required to have it to operate so far.

No problem, contact the Policy Place for policies and procedures to support your application for Accreditation.  We will consider any policies you currently have along with your Trust Deed or Constitution and set you up with policies and procedures to support your accreditation as a Level 3 Transitional Housing Provider.

Review and Updating

The job of getting accredited can seem big. It is a big job but we will lessen your load by providing the policies and procedures you need.

Once you get accreditation, we will stay alongside. As an accredited agency you are expected to keep your policies updated. As a member of the online policy service, we do this for you. We will update your policies for relevant legislation changes and review your policies within a two-year cycle.

Press go for Transitional Housing

If you’re an existing member of the Policy Place online policy service who is accredited just let us know when you’re ready to hit go with Transitional Housing.

For others who are thinking about the online policy service and want to know more about the service, check out  – What’s so good about the Policy Place, where we go through some common questions we get. In Online policies and procedures – so easy! we go through the steps involved in joining you up to the online policy service.

If you’re unsure whether you want generic or tailored policies for your particular business/agency, in this post we canvas the options – Policy and Procedure Templates – generic & customised.

If you want to try out the online policy service, give our Free Trial a whirl.

Misinformation and Disinformation Policies and Procedures

Misinformation dynamics shown by image of sheep suggests following with erroneous equation.

Misinformation and disinformation are significant hazards for a workplace. They can cause serious reputational damage and loss for a business/organisation.

Good news – as a member of the Policy Place online policy service, you have policies to help minimise these risks.

In this post, we’ll identify some of these policies for you to use in training and review with your team. We start by defining Misinformation because the scope of the term is often contested.

Definitions – Misinformation and Disinformation

Misinformation can refer to manipulated images and false or inaccurate information that leads to misconceptions, stereotyping, misunderstandings and real-world harm.

Whereas misinformation can be disseminated unintentionally, disinformation involves the deliberate spread of false information. It can involve the use and mix of of text, images, audio and video. It can be created and disseminated by humans and synthetically generated by AI-enabled tools.

See United Nations Countering Disinformation and Misinformation for more.

Policies to reduce the risks of misinformation

-Social Media and Digital Use

As a member of our online policy service, you have access to a number of policies dealing with the use of digital media including Social Media and Unacceptable Use policies. These policies demand professionalism in all online interactions and provide rules of engagement with digital media.  They include requirements for training, provide guidelines for acceptable use and prohibit certain behaviors when engaging with digital technology.

-Standards of conduct

In both the Integrity and Service Delivery categories of your online policies, you will find a number of policies to guide staff in ethical conduct.  For example, the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and cultural responsiveness policies encourage a client-centered focus and counter the effects of stereotyping and discrediting can often occur with misinformation.

The Code of Conduct is in the Integrity category. It states your organisation’s values and expected standards of behaviour.  All staff must prioritise and act in the best interests of the organisation and take reasonable care to avoid causing harm to themselves and others.

Staff must not therefore be careless with the information they rely on and share with others.  Before using or sharing information with others, they must verify the accuracy of the information, that it is aligned with your agency’s kaupapa and has been approved for release.

-Privacy policies

Your online policies include a comprehensive suite of privacy and confidentiality policies.  These policies support your agency’s compliance with the Privacy Act 2020. They include restrictions on the sharing of personal information and require adherence to information safeguards and privacy-related training for staff. They help counter the risks of sensitive and personal information being shared and manipulated by others for a wrongful purpose.

Relax – you are a  Policy Place member!

We’ve got you covered as a Policy Place member when it comes to misinformation and disinformation. But… don’t forget the importance of staff training; Don’t forget the importance of organisational culture – encourage staff to raise any concerns they have about misinformation and to undertake due diligence before using or sharing it.

Lastly, always be on guard for it and the many contexts and ways in which misinformation is spread.