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Graemea & Cyf New Zealand

Archived documents of Graeme Axford and his dispute with Child Youth & Family, (CYF) New Zealand

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EEO issues, clarity & solution to the problem
News Archive April 2009

News Archives

July 2009

July 1st 2009

May 2009

These updates can be found in the UnEqual Opportunity Section of this website and comprise the last three updates to this issue of Equal Opportunity during the employment process and how the potential for discrimination can be removed in the first instance.

April 2009

EEO issues, clarity & solution.

March 2009

Potentially Discriminatory
CYF Complaints Authority Fails

February 2009

Heading North
International Attention Growing

--- Original Message ---
From: Graeme Axford [mailto: ??]
Sent: Thursday, 26 March 2009 10:50 a.m.
To: Human Rights Commission; State Services Commission
Cc: P Bennett (MIN); Peter Hughes
Subject: EEO issues, clarity & solution to the problem

To all it my concern,

I have sent this out because if gives what I hope is a clearer synopsis that will hopefully show people the problem I and others with disabilities are facing with the current State Services Commission (SSC), Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO) policies and guidelines within New Zealand, that doesn't seem to work if people like Child Youth and Family (CYF) choose to ignore them and even the Human Rights Commission as they are still doing. I also think I have found a very easy solution to the problem as I will outline later on.

As some of you are aware, I took issue with the way (CYF) job interview process went. Unfortunately, I can't use other people's information or cases, so will go back to my own experiences which I might add have as yet to be fully resolved by Mr Hughes (CEO). While we wait, CYF still go on treating people with disabilities, in a shocking manner which I find outrageous in this day and age. In case you missed it, someone else has suffered at CYF hands in a like-wise manner, as I have just found out.

The main issues I still have with CYF is the way the ask questions on disabilities at the time of application, and try to excuse themselves under some kind of hypocritical pretense from getting feedback on the EEO data from this group afterwards.

The excuse; a lot of Government departments use for not gathering EEO data upon application is provided by Paula Attrill, Regional Director Southern dated 24 October 2006:

"There is a view that, as issues of any disability are not known to the selection and interview panel the likelihood of any discrimination on disability grounds is reduced. There is strong guidance within the Public Service, based on the Human Rights Act, that asking questions about disability in the early stages of the recruitment process could lead to an assumption of discrimination"

'Hum, well but I was also told on the other hand ...'

"Graeme's dyslexia was raised. Paula explained that it was unhelpful for the panel not knowing that he had a disability at the time of the interview and questioned why it had not been identified on the CYF Application Form. It made it very difficult for the panel to progress with the interview" Source: First Greymouth Meeting

Does that not seem to contradict? Ok this is a response about the way CYF framed the question on the application form "The Human Rights Commission"

"As you (being Graeme/me) rightly point out, there are potential risks that this data is not used to monitor the fair treatment of people with disabilities, but to exclude them. It is believed that disability information is under-reported due to fear of discrimination. See 'Enabling Ability: Meeting the employment requirements of people with disabilities in the Public Service,' a recent publication from the State Services Commission (SSC) … " email dated Friday, 14 November 2008 4:08 p.m.

Just one point on the comment "disability information is under-reported due to fear of discrimination." In CYF cases, it's underreported because they actually don't record it, they ask you on the application form, which gets destroyed, and even it the issues are raised at in interview should you make it that far after a disclosure, even then the information gets destroyed if a person identifies as having a disability.

You can read the 'Enabling Ability research here: http://www.ssc.govt.nz/display/document.asp?docid=6945 and I should add the research is very floored and it almost seems that the SSC got the answers they wanted to justify their position. Its easy to do this if you know how to load the questions up to get the answer you need, I will explain this later but for now need to say on track.

And again from the same email:

"Collecting disability data after appointment reduces the possibility that an applicant for a job might be discriminated against, but means that the opportunity to monitor, and if necessary amend, recruitment practice is lost." email dated Friday, 14 November 2008 4:08 p.m.

Hello CYF that was my point, you don't want to seem to monitor or admen your recruitment practices, Ok this is the big one:

"The wording of the question in the CYFS application form does not appear to be data gathering for the purposes of equal employment opportunities. You report that the application form states:
“Do you have, or have you ever had, a medical condition caused by an injury, illness, disability or gradual process that the tasks of the position may aggravate or contribute to, or that may affect your ability to carry out the work of the position applied for?” email dated Friday, 14 November 2008 4:08 p.m.

What's more, if you would have to answer this question, as the CYF themselves, SSC and Human Rights Commission point out here:

"The question asked above is overly generic. If for example the job involves a high level of exposure to stressful situations then the ability to manage stress should be ascertained at interview and through reference checks rather than the use of a screening question which will preclude otherwise worthy applicants being considered. It is possible that if a person answered "No" to this question and had previously experienced mental illness, physical illness or other physical impairment and this re-occurred they could be dismissed for providing false information." email dated Friday, 14 November 2008 4:08 p.m.

To reconfirm this again the SSC Solicitor said:

"Failure to do so would provide an employer with legal cause to dismiss the appointee"

So its clear there is no way out of having to answer the questions which is not for EEO data gathering purposes. So it seems that CYF have in fact openly been able to get away with what could be called highly discriminatory practices. Even after being told this CYF still have not changed their ways to date I am aware of.

What CYF also did, was attach the so called anonymous and voluntarily EEO form to the application pack and got people to send them back to the same place with all your curriculum vitae (CV) contact details, background and work history. That was another problem I pointed out that CYF and the SSC could not see. Attaching the EEO as part of the application Pack makes a mockery if you want to encourage people to self report, it seems CYF tried to put people off that happening so they could get away with doing, what they did. I mean, if I am wrong please tell me how anyone could have missed such an obvious problem, until I pointed it out, even after CYF had senior management, HR, look at my case. It's not rocket science people?

"Your point about including information about disability in forms completed at time of applications was raised with the EEO Practitioners' network meeting and our guidelines have been amended. They now advise HR staff to separate EEO statistical information (including that about disability) collected at pre-selection from other candidate application materials prior to interview" Letter 29 May 2007, from Ann Aspey Solicitor for the SSC

Even after the offending questions about disabilities was asked on the CYF application form as aforementioned, the actual anonymous and voluntarily, self reporting EEO data form does not follow it up, they excluded questions on disability asked about Gender and ethnicity only.

Does that not seem strange they force you to answer a question that makes you venerable and rather sensitive that created the potential for discrimination, then don't attempt to follow up to see if that is in fact happening. They justify the need to ask question on disabilities, which is valid, (but not the way they have done it). Given the need for reasonable accommodation or affirmative action, then pretend afterwards they needed to leave if off the EEO form incase someone gets offended or accuses them of discrimination.

I think by not offering the chance to anonymously and voluntarily give people the chance to self report on the EEO forms is discrimination especially when you ask about ethnicity, which some might see as equally opening yourself up for claims of possible discrimination by doing so. The fact is what part of anonymous do you not understand if the information can't be traced back to the people there should not be any problem, and even then if people are still iffy they have no compulsion to fill the form out anyway. Do you not pick up on the fact it is also voluntarily.

If people don't want to answer the question they don't have to meaning its up to them. My issues are the fact the SSC and CYF don't even offer people with disabilities the right or chance to self report if they wish. Maybe if people who do the employment selection processes know people had the option of self reporting upon application but not know if they have or haven't (because it's anonymous & voluntarily) people with disabilities might get a fairer go. Honestly people the answer to the problem could be that simple so why did none of you come up with it sooner?

The last word from the SSC Solicitor was I consider that this is as far as we can go with the issues you raise

Now you might say well that's dragging up the past and a long time ago surely things have changed and been improved.

You would be very wrong if you think that and in fact a visit to the CYF page http://www.cyf.govt.nz/ download the latest application form and the question is still there.

Even after the Human Rights Commission supported my original views CYF still seem intent on openly discriminating against people with disabilities by being unwilling to change their ways. That seems to be rather blatant and typical of CYF.

Peter Hughes CEO of the MSD is well aware of my concerns over these issues and still seems happy for the issues to continue by the fact he has not make changes.

The most ironic thing is, given CYF is a social Services Agency and meant to work under and uphold a number of codes of Ethics, practices and conduct; it's rather ironic they have done things this way. The codes apply in all their dealings with people, including the recruitment process, be honest, non-discriminatory, act with integrity. Let alone, empowerment models etc. If you can't work the codes principles into your daily workings in this area, I think you are truly lost and need to retire before you do any more damage to the profession or agency.

I also need to leave you with one more comment, as a manager told me, they could not consider mainstream (Supported Employment Programme) because of the EEO policy. 'OMG give me a break could people really be that clueless? '

While some might find my comments antagonistic given I have been talking about this since 2006 I feel I have earned every right to be so now.

In fact as another point, my first job interview went better then the second. The first job interview, my disability was sprung on CYF, they claimed?

I need to make this point very clear Paula Attrill, Regional Director Southern, sometime later, queried if I did in fact answer the offending questions about disabilities … on the application form for the first interview.

Paula was trying to claim; if I didnít answer that question; the first interview panel would not have been aware or prepared for someone with my disability. (Or words to that affect) To cut a long story short, because I did the application on computer and it crashed making a Temporary File which I recovered and merged back the forms again I donít know. I could have mistakenly merged the form back the wrong way leaving the question I had previously filled out blank.

Even if Paula was correct which I disagree with (panel would have been unprepared) as my CV had mentioned my literacy course at CPIT (where I also started Social Work unit standards) and personal statements referred to my disability. Both of which the interview panel had out during the first interview with me.

The second job interview, CYF were very aware of my disability and that's when I had the worst result.. As such, that poses an interesting question. If CYF really missed the fact I have a disability upon my first application, would I have ever got an interview in the first place? I mean come on CYF still refuse to look at the mainstream program http://graemea.snap.net.nz/ for me 3 years on, which is specially designed to help people with disabilities get into employment.

This poses a very interesting, fundamental and philosophical question about which process was the better, being made aware of a disability is the better way to go or not? Or, was the second interview a setup and the disability played on to be my downfall?

I needed to make that comment to add context to what I am saying about how a disability can be used against people, wittingly or unwittingly, as in some other cases I have heard about, since I made CYF employment process and discriminately practices public via my webpage and blogs.

It seems CYF the longer this goes on for the more I have been proven right. While CYF will try and deny this the evidence is stacking up

Could people please email me a reply in text form owing to the need for reasonable accommodation, and the fact my disability in case you have not noticed, affects my literacy skills.

Graeme Axford

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