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Consultations continue on health and safety


Consultations continue on health and safety of volunteer workers

The Minister for the Community and Voluntry Sector, Tariana Turia, has told the NZ Association of Citizens’ Advice Bureaux that the government is still in consultation over the details of the Health and Safety in Employment Amendment Bill.

In a speech circulated at the Association’s AGM in Hamilton this morning [Minister’s plane delayed by weather], Tariana Turia acknowledged concern among voluntary organisations about the possible impact of the Bill, which is presently before Parliament.

“Much of the concern is caused by false and misleading rumours, for example, that anyone arranging a working bee at the local school or asking for volunteers at the local sports club will be liable to prosecution if there is an accident,” Tariana Turia said.

“I want to assure you that such rumours are not true.

“The government is still in consultation over the details of the Amendment Bill. Volunteering New Zealand is drawing up some guidelines, and the government is working with them on that.

“In the meantime, changes have already been announced, which will specifically exclude the following people from prosecution: volunteers involved in any charitable fundraising activity (including working bees) for schools, sports and hobby clubs volunteer sports coaches for schools and sports clubs parents or any other volunteers supervising school activities outside school grounds (including transporting children to and from activities and events).

“The Bill will now include a duty of care for those people, which will be actively encouraged by the Department of Labour – but prosecutions will not be involved,” said Tariana Turia. MORE … Mrs Turia said volunteering must be recognised and valued more highly across the whole of government – and protection of volunteer workers was one way to do that.

“Part of our support is to ensure that volunteer workers are not exploited, or asked to work in unsafe or unhealthy jobs. Over a million New Zealanders are involved in some form of volunteer community work. Whether workers are paid or unpaid, their safety is important,” she said.

Mrs Turia also advised the CABs that the government was looking at how their funding could be improved.

“I have taken up a request on your behalf, which was initiated by my predecessor, Steve Maharey. I have asked a number of my Ministerial colleagues to pledge baseline funding for NZACAB, and I am looking forward to their replies in the near future,” she said.

The Minister praised the efforts of CABs to encourage and educate people in how to use the internet, as a way to improve their access to information.

“Just this week, the government has improved its communications with the public, with the launch of an information website, or e-government portal,” she said.

“At the same time, I understand your concerns over the so-called digital divide, between the rich and poor in terms of access to information. This has been raised as an issue for tangata whenua in particular.

“I strongly support your plans to help people get the most out of the internet,” Tariana Turia said. “This is real empowerment.”

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