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Graemea & CYF New Zealand

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

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Table of Content  Page 14 of 28

Graeme's Tutor Comments

Given that this person needs permission from the academic board and therefore needs complete anonymity at this point until approval is forthcoming.

A former tutor made some of the following comments:

Graeme is compiling this transcript of our views intertwining what we both agree and see as the issues but in his words and from his perspective.

The comments contained within are based upon written feedback supplied by Child Youth and Family services to the former tutor concerning the two interviews that Graeme had with them, and also comments made during the two meetings held in Greymouth with both CYF's and Graeme.

As the suggestion has been made that Graeme does not show the skills expected for someone holding this qualification and is therefore in some way substandard, this reflects more on CYF's lack of understanding about his dyslexia. I would find such comments insidious and unconscionable given my experience with him.

Graeme's work was moderated and he was trained and educated by three different organizations, spanning 12 tutors. His work in some cases was put up for moderation and passed as good examples of high standards for all to aspire to.

Part of Graeme's condition involves short term memory loss as highlighted in the Seabrook Mackenzie (educational psychologist) report which CYF have.

To overcome this Graeme would normally develop templates, mind-maps, bullet point notes and use acronyms and if needed a type of hieroglyphics to help trigger his memory. Then Graeme would commit the information to long term memory. Remember Graemes short term and working memory are both affected by dyslexia and part of the condition …

Graeme also has a number of technology options available to him like voice recognition, text to speech to MP3, PDA's among other things etc… I have seen him use these all well to overcome the difficulties he faces.

What CYF sees as a skill deficiency based upon the interview marking schedule results and other feedback provided, is the cognitive issues that Graeme faces as a result of his disability as we will explain shortly.

If Graeme worked for CYF and was asked to do interviews like the one in the role-play scenario, Graeme could have all these strategies at the ready and the result would as expected be of a far higher standard.

I asked Graeme, given that he had one interview behind him and was going into the next why he did not prepare himself better. Graeme stated he did but that the interview panel used a different role-play scenario than the one he had prepared for last time. Graeme said that he was so busy concentrating on the facts given to him on the A4 paper that he forgot everything and basically lost it all.

It's clear to me from CYF comments that they don't have a clue about how Graeme's disability affects him to spite having that information at their fingertips; otherwise they would differentiate between what is perceived as a skill deficiency rather than his disability coming into play as happen during the interviews.

The comments about Graeme focusing on the mother during the interview role-play scenario could be expected given his role as an advocate. Parents represent their children until they reach a legal age, so Graeme would not ask to see the child.

Remember Graeme has been in advocacy for over 8 years and would not contemplate the option of seeing the child unless briefed otherwise. Given he was already overloaded with information he would not of given that a second thought. In short he had already blown a fuse before this point as the feedback reflects this which I will elaborate on soon.

Graeme simply when on autopilot (long-term memory recall) to his advocacy style as that would be more entrenched then what he was trying to do at that moment. Graeme's working and short term memory would have been overloaded at that time given the circumstances the interview was held under.

Graeme's logical functioning is different to most peoples because of his disability which is outlined in the Seabrook Mackenzie report so it is very easy for CYF to check up and verify these facts if they wish and should have done to start with.

I would have thought CYF would have sought advice from an educational psychologist on the best way to interview Graeme and advice on the types of problems they would be likely to face, based on the educational psychologist's report they already had. Given CYF actions and comments in my view CYF seem very negligent in light of these facts as they have done very little to be considered helpful it would seem.

Giving Graeme a lot of words on an A4 paper as happened in the interview for the scenario exercised and scrambling the information throughout the page would not work. Graeme would need to break things down into categories and from that sequence them for him to process and follow using his own methods. He is quite capable of doing this himself that how he passed his qualifications you now question. It seems strange CYF seem so unwilling or unable to cope with Graeme's condition given his proven track record for getting results. All the providers adjusted why can't CYF. Please explain that fact?

Given Graeme got short listed and put on the preferred list after the first interview with a score of 42 and the other candidates who got the position ahead of him got 44, I think that was a good result considering the fact the panel was unaware for most of the time of Graeme's disability and that impacted on the interview. The second interview score of 31.5 I could hardly believe and knew something had to have gone wrong, given Graeme's very obvious abilities.

Graeme was clearly not a willing participant at the second interview and felt going into the interview CYF had sabotaged the signing off the transcript as agreed in writing, hoping Graeme would pull out or that this would unnerve him so he would perform badly.

If Graeme refused to attend the second interview CYF could say they gave Graeme another chance and he turned it down. Therefore have no course for redress if he pulled out. Is that not setting someone up to fail? Considering CYF had the power and time to do something and did nothing to resolve the issues before the second interview it does not look good when they continued with the interview to spite this fact.

Graeme clearly made his feelings known and how to resolve the issues before the second interview given there was time enough it seems the will was lacking on CYF behalf to get things going al Graeme wanted was what CYF promised.

But by going Graeme felt he gave CYF a loaded gun. Graeme explained the catch 22 was a win-win for CYF and loss for Graeme no matter how it worked out. I understand his perspective and think the difference between the two interview scores reflects this quite clearly. The difference in the two results and feedback does speak for its self in my view about how Graeme felt at the time.

Example self-confidence being marked so low at 1.5 out of 5, that's not a result I would ever expect to see Graeme get.

Based on Graeme's understanding and having read the notes, emails I can see why all these events contributed to Graeme getting such low score for the second interview. In my view that interview should be disregarded, given that I think it is morally reprehensible to use the second interview results against Graeme in this way CYF are seeking to justify not ever employing Graeme.

As an example: CYF suggesting Graeme going to a Non Government Organization to get the skills, or not being able to identify another course to help get the skills needed, Chris being concerned about Graeme downloading the CYF, Social Work Now magazine thinking that will teach him the skills.

These comments seem outrageous and condescending to me and show CYF complete lack of understanding around Graeme's condition.

Graeme does have the skills he also has a disability that gets in the way of them coming out at times I object to any suggestions to the contrary.

While CYF might argue Graeme lacks the skills to justify not employing him anyone who reads that educational psychologist report with a basic understanding will see right through that excuse and no it's not plausible in light of the facts.

As Graeme said CYF might be sincere in their views but that does not make them right as they are sincerely wrong. Sincerity is no substitute for truth.

In short Graeme's dyslexia affects his memory at times, logical, analytical, sequencing and ability to read and recall among other things.

As I stated earlier the memory issue clearly showed up in the second interview Examples, "Graeme was unable to recall a specific example" and he needed to be prompted, unable to explain... etc... That sounds like a mental block or memory problems as a result of dyslexia kicking in.

Given the extra stress CYF deliberately put Graeme under I can see why this happened and agree with Graeme I also think CYF are playing on it for their advantage. That is distasteful using someone's disability against them like that. READ THE REPORT or do some basic research on the internet about dyslexia and you will soon see for yourself what we mean and realize how foolish the CYF comments are.

The difference between the two interview score of 12.5 points is huge.
I would suggest the issues around Graeme's recruitment are not because of his skills but CYF inability to differentiate how his disability affects him, in relation to their claims about his lack of skills for someone holding this qualification.

This fact is irrefutable Graeme reached the same standards, timeframes and skills required to pass his qualification. I am sure he could do the same in the workplace if given the chance. Graeme has already proven himself in a supportive environment.

Graeme said he mentioned he will continue to apply for positions in Greymouth and it was suggested as he had been short listed twice in quick succession it's unlike we would again for some time if at all.

Graeme said he is being forced to apply for advertised positions as mainstream was still not an option according to CYF latest comments.

I have advised Graeme not to do this as applying for advertised positions is contrary to the mainstreams principles and will only play into CYF hands given the over the top appalling comments and excuses seen to date. It is very clear from the feedback CYF don't want Graeme in the Greymouth office for some reason.

Graeme is a lot sharper then CYF seem to give him credit for not that they have given him any. I find the feedback, denigrating demoralizing and shows a lack of respect for difference and an inability of CYF to cope in this position.

Graeme wanted the mainstream option so putting him through the normal interview processes and holding him to and measuring him against standards he could never reach without reasonable understanding given his disability in my view is deplorable and completely unnecessary.

Graeme stated the mainstream was resisted by CYF and they have not attempted to come on board in any way to make this happen. Graeme said CYF treat mainstream like a second class citizen or and add on if and when CYF ever retain or employ enough staff they might have consider it he was told.

The simple Fact is in brief the eligibility criterion for mainstream program is someone has a disability which is a barrier to employment making the person not quite work ready. The fact Graeme is on the program means it is already a forgone conclusion and acknowledged Graeme is not work ready.

Graeme's disability means he would have issues measuring up to CYF standards which is why he can not take an advertised position as if he applied would not get it anyway because of his disability like what is happening now with CYF, Is that not logical? Graeme's disability is a barrier to employment CYF have proved that in their own comments.

So why did the CYF insist on the second interview for an advertised position knowing Graeme was a mainstream applicant. Is that not like rubbing Graeme's face in it and degrading? I believe Graeme is right CYF could have paralleled the interview and doubled it as a mainstream putting in place some extra strategies as outlined in this letter to help Graeme. After all CYF were conducting interviews anyway and doing this would have eased the tension and stress for Graeme.
It would not have been that grater effort if CYF could have been bothered.

CYF seem to have missed another point. Under mainstream Graeme would not be expected to have the same workload as the rest of the staff to start with as he is not quite work ready and workbridge who administer the program supply the support in conjunction with CYF. Graeme would be eased into it not thrown while he becomes work ready see the difference.

That's why under mainstream the position is not guaranteed at the end of the subsidized employment the emphasis is on the willingness to try, something CYF clearly don't want to happen for some reason?. That does look like discrimination especially given CYF outright refusal of the mainstream option over the past 6 months and range of excuses to justify this that doesn't add up in my view...

Graeme's disability means he requires extra support while some might think in that case should he have got the qualification Graeme has an interesting depiction. If someone needs to use reading glasses during the interview the panel could hardly refuse saying if you can't do it normally ( without the glasses) then you don't meet the same standards as everyone else's.

No other candidate needed to use glasses why should we make an exception for you. If you can not see properly (unaided without glasses) you should not bee reading. CYF are basically doing the equivalent to Graeme. Without memory joggers for the second interview given the extra stress Graeme was under I can see why it went so wrong.

To relieve the stress CYF should have postponed the interview until the outstanding issues were resolved. Remember Graeme's dyslexia gets worse with stress and he clearly remembers stating that at the first interview...

Then again maybe CYF did set things up that way after all they refused acknowledge the external factors surrounding the second interview had a bearing on Graeme to which they had control over, E.g. sign the transcript, postpone the interview.

The fact is it does look like CYF wanted the second interview to cover there asses as Graeme calls it after the mistakes made during the first interview and get enough excuses to justify not employing him. Graeme said he felt it was a knee-jerk reaction and butt covering exercise planned to get CYF off the hook. He calls it dirty tricks and blatant discrimination and I can see why.

It would seem the reason for keeping mainstream of the agenda is because then CYF would have to look at his abilities putting aside excuses and see if it could happen. It also means CYF would have to acknowledge the impact of Graeme's disability which they refuse to instead suggesting it's a skill deficiency or alike.

Setting someone up to fail is not honorable then justifying it even worse I think is shameful what CYF have done based on my understanding of what I have read from both parties involved.

Graeme claimed until CYF get a full contingent of staff they stated they would not even consider the mainstream program if at all as it was not on the radar.

Over 6 months of trying and CYF made it clear it will never happen for him now.

CYF have seen enough of Graeme and based upon the first interview comments some of his abilities. Many of the skill CYF claimed Graeme has not shown during the interview are very clearly obvious in his responses to CYF. Graeme has been very analytical and investigated his case well, also challenging CYF behavior and come up with options that could work.

CYF have underestimated Graeme in many ways it would seem.

My suggestion is that CYF do their homework on Graeme's disability and this time prepare in a way that will give Graeme equality, taking into account his disability and using the techniques throughout this document which have always worked well. Only then in my view could CYF truly say they did their best by Graeme, and could do no more.

Anyone like CYF who claims or tries to ignore Graeme's disability not seeing how it affects his every day being is wrong and clearly has no understanding of him or his condition. Do CYF think arrogance is bliss in this case?

Just because Graeme has the qualification to be a Social Worker does not mean his disability goes away. I think CYF lack of understanding has been very insulting.

Graeme has the skills to match his qualification and if anyone claims otherwise attacks the integrity of all his tutors and organization that assisted getting him to this point.

The fact CYF see the results but don't recognize the underlying issue of his disability to me is astonishing. As Graeme said if a computer hard drive gets a virus it can cause a meltdown of types, that's what dyslexia does to my thinking.

Another example of Graeme's lets say you are running late for an appointment and realize you put the car keys down and can not remember when and were you had them last. Knowing you are running late you get more flustered which makes it harder to think. Dyslexia is like that for Graeme it's in his head he needs to retrace his steps to connect with the lost item. Or another one people say its on the tip of my tongue, Graeme has that all the time so having memory joggers creates connections which triggers the flow of information back on track again.

If you get a blocked drain once its unclogged everything flows again Graeme is much like that from a cognitive point of view. These are all Graeme's own examples he used in class to try and get people to understand..

The so called skill deficiency CYF claim Graeme has can be over come by first and foremost CYF changing their attitude. Then experience, supervision, profiling cases, reviewing policy manuals and observation. CYF make it seem more difficult then it needs to be for their advantage I suspect.

I think CYF should be ashamed of themselves if the understanding conveyed to me is correct. This is another example of how people with disabilities are being disenfranchised by ignorance from those who should know better

It seems clear to me that, given CYF over-the-top comments and attempts to justify their actions, CYF are making every possible excuse and reason not to employ Graeme. If they channeled that energy into working with Graeme it would be time better spent. CYF are making a mistake underestimating Graeme who has suffered discrimination before and therefore knows what it looks like. Do you?

I find CYF innuendos unprecedented based upon what I have read and inline with the commentary provided by Graeme.
If CYF what to take a swipe at Graeme's training and previous providers they should have the intestinal fortitude to put these ideas in writing and send it to the organizations involved directly. While I have complete confidence in what Graeme has conveyed would be correct and read hints of it within the feedback provided by CYF I would rather not work through an intermediary.

We will without doubt vigorously respond if CYF write to us directly we will also highlight their stupidity in regards to that argument and manner in which you have been treated if they take us up on the offer.

From what I have read Graeme has acted with professionalism to spite the outrageous manner he has been treated this is another one of his qualities and another reason why CYF should reconsider their position.

You should see Graeme as an asset and not a burden as its all coming across this way. CYF are trying to disparage Graeme and for an organization that is meant to show dignity, respect, empathy, empowerment, strengths based practice etc.. I see little evidence of these qualities at work while you have been dealing with Graeme's case.

If CYF put as much effort into being positive and understanding Graeme's condition as apposed to being totally negative I am sure something workable would happen and you would all be better off. Somehow I doubt that will happen based CYF comments and excuses to date.

Famous people with Dyslexia
Thomas Edison, Sir Winston Churchill, Alexander Graham Bell, Henry Ford, Thomas Jefferson, John F. Kennedy, George Washington, Albert Einstein, Tom Cruise, Jamie Oliver, and the lists are on going.

I await your reply.

Table of Content  Page 14 of 28


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