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

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Concealed First Interview Report

21 July 2006
CYF670 Social Worker, Greymouth
Vacancy Schedule
The Social Worker vacancies, West Coast were advertised internally in the Bulletin and The Greymouth Evening Star, Otago Daily Times and Christchurch Press on 13 May 2006 and 17 May 2006.

The interview panel was comprised of:

Christine McKenna: Site Manager (Chair)
Brent Schmidt: Supervisor
Val Henry: Iwi representative

Seven applications were received. Shortlisting was carried out on 22 June 2006 by the Panel. It was decided to interview five applicants, all external candidates. The interviews took place on Saturday 1 July 2006 at Child Youth and Family, West Coast office. A competency based interview process was used, with each applicant given a work sample to complete within 15 minutes (copy attached). The Panel also assessed each candidate using an "End of Interview Analysis Form".

SUMMARY Candidate 5

Graeme Axford was well prepared for the interview and presented in an enthusiastic manner. Graeme has recently graduated with a Diploma in Social Work and is currently working in an advocacy role in the community. Graeme presented in an open and honest manner, he identified he is the maternal uncle of a client of the Service and was prepared to discuss this aspect of how he believed he would manage working for Child, Youth and Family and having a family member in the Custody of the Chief Executive.

Graeme spoke of the need for his niece's file to be confidential, he stated that he believed he would not have any involvement with the file, nor would he seek any involvement in her social work case management. Graeme had spoken with family members regarding his application and the client's father met this with considerable anger. Graeme thought long and hard about his application, he considered his family's reaction and decided to proceed.

Graeme reports that both he and his parents do not align themselves with the views of the clients parents and to this end he has distanced himself from those members of his family. Should he be successful in his application, Graeme recognises that it will not be straightforward and he will need to manage the interface between work and family.

The Panel felt whilst Graeme has considered the implications, he has not fully considered the full implications to his professional career as a social worker and how in a small community the public/clients would perceive him when links are made to his family.

Graeme was familiar with the job description and had undertaken some research about Child, Youth and Family on the website. He was the only candidate who did this. Graeme demonstrated a methodical approach to the competency-based questions, he demonstrated he was able to take action and make decisions and that he used time and resources effectively in the scenarios he discussed.

Throughout the interview Graeme was able to demonstrate relationship building / networks to achieve outcomes for his clients. This was based on his role as an advocate. He demonstrated an insight into occasions when he may be unable to assist a client, however he was able to refer them on appropriately or seek advice regarding where to refer them.

Graeme demonstrated a systematic approach and clarity of thought and was able to seek information from a variety of sources to assist his clients. He demonstrates confidence in his own judgement and a willingness to put forward his own viewpoint. This was very much based on his role as an advocate.

During the interview Graeme identified that the greatest challenge for him undertaking a position at Child, Youth and Family is in relation to his dyslexia. He provided a number of reports in relation to this disability but the panel noted they are at least three years old. Graeme spoke of having systems in place, i.e. Dictaphone and computer software that assists him in his writing skills, however the panel has concerns as to how he would cope working in a statutory environment.

Graeme provided information about the Mainstream Employment Programme, State Services Commission that supports people into employment with significant disabilities. The Panel highlighted the need for further exploration in regards to his disability and how this may impact on the statutory nature of the work should he be successful. The other consideration is that Graeme is related to a client of the Service and how he would manage this interface.

In regards to the work sample Graeme did not appear able to consider abuse or neglect. The report he wrote provided a rationale to events in the childs life and provided plausible explanation to events noted in the scenario. There appeared to be no analysis of the situation or of any perceived risk to the child and he was not able to provide the key issues from the scenario.

The Panel has considered Graeme's application and whilst he has social work qualities and attributes he requires additional consideration due to his family connection to a medium profile case held in the Greymouth office. The Panel felt that should Graeme be successful in his application, his application has the potential to place the Service at some risk as well as possibly having a negative impact on the developing professional career of Graeme.

It is thought if Graeme was to be employment this may have the potential to place the Service at some risk and further, possibly have a negative impact on Graeme's credibility in the community as a statutory social worker. It may also impact on the credibility of the Service in the community.

In consideration of Graeme's disability the Panel felt this may hinder his ability to complete written reports in a timely manner. As the Service is required to work under pressure and to deadlines the Panel felt this pressure may exacerbate his ability to complete written work. Often when an individual is placed under pressure issues come to the surface and this pressure may impact negatively on Graeme's ability to complete work on time. As a good employer we would not like to place our employees under undue pressure.  Back to EEO Human Rights unResolved

Considering the West Coast site in its entirety consideration is to be given to the social work team in which the vacancy sits and how Graeme's disability may impact on the functioning of this team and further with his relationship to a client within the office how the team may manage this aspect.

The Panel agreed that while Graeme is qualified and presented with social work qualities and attributes he has not scored high enough to be considered for a position. The other factors mentioned above would also require further consideration re his ability to be recommended for employment.

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