Monday, July 18, 2016

What is reasonable?

One of the terms used often in legal language is "reasonable".

What would a reasonable person think.
How much is reasonable force.
How does a reasonable person behave.

But what happens when you are faced with a person who does not apply "reason" to a situation. Expectations are not met and frustration is incurred. In most cases, ie. relationships, you can have a big blow-up, argue it out and then get over it.

However, when faced with a bureaucrat who applies rules without compassion; who has no vested interest in the outcome; who is power hungry and using your situation to advance their career, things can turn nasty very quickly.

Several stories have emerged lately from Housing tenants who have been forced into disastrous situations by uncaring CSOs and Team Leaders. These tales range from the mildly stupid to the outright corrupt and vindictive.

Take the CSO who rocked up at a tenant's doorstep, interviewed the "boyfriend" who was visiting and then reported it incorrectly on the neighbours file as an Unauthorised Occupant. The neighbour was vigorously investigated and the CSO would not admit their mistake.

Or the CSO who failed to answer 12 emails over a period of 8 weeks - each asking the same question: "what further paperwork do you need?" The tenant zealously sought an answer but there was total silence from Housing. Two months later the tenant received an eviction notice for failing to provide paperwork. The tenant's file was marked with the comment "harassing Housing staff with emails..."

And what about the vindictive Team Leader - when reported for misconduct, set out on a path of retaliation, spending hours (and countless $$) digging up tidbits of gossip in a cruel and relentless pursuit of the accuser.

As more and more Housing tenants are drawn from the pool of desperation, with language barriers, mental illness and high-needs roadblocks; tenant's rights are eroded and the power of those behind the desk increases, placing vulnerable clients at the mercy of callous staff.

Is it reasonable to expect Housing staff to act with an ounce of humanity?

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Code of Ethical Conduct

All NSW public servants, and in particular those who work directly with the public like Housing or DoCS workers, are governed by a beautifully written document titled Code of Ethical Conduct.

It is 29 pages long the core principles are Integrity, Trust, Service and Accountability.
[Okay, stop laughing now]
You can just tell that it took a back room team a year to write it and then an additional year to have it peer reviewed and then many more months to get the legal language correct. All this so that it can sit in the public servant's bottom drawer and be ignored.

And what happens if they breach it?
Well, they get investigated. Not by an independent team or an outside body - they get to investigate themselves. I wonder how often they find themselves guilty? 

So next time you are heading down to the Housing office, print out the list below and score when they comply with the code. Offer the staff member a report card or better still - offer to send their report card to their Team Leader. 

• Consider people equally without prejudice or favour 
• Act professionally with honesty, consistency and impartiality 
• Take responsibility for situations, showing leadership and courage 
• Place public interest over personal interest. 

• Appreciate difference and welcome learning from others 
• Build relationships based on mutual respect 
• Uphold the law, institutions of government and democratic principles 
• Communicate intentions clearly and invite teamwork and collaboration 
• Provide apolitical and non-partisan advice. 

• Provide services fairly with a focus on client needs 
• Be flexible, innovative and reliable in service delivery 
• Engage with the not-for-profit and business sectors to develop and implement service solutions 
• Focus on quality while maximising service delivery. 

• Recruit and promote staff on merit 
• Take responsibility for decisions and actions 
• Provide transparency to enable public scrutiny 
• Observe standards for safety 
• Be fiscally responsible and focus on efficient, effective and prudent use of resources.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Rotten eggs float

Have you ever sat across from a Housing staff member in an interview or at the counter and wondered... how the hell does this person manage to get away with being so incompetent?
Like most bureaucrats, the more inept the person – the higher they rise to the top.

It happens like this: the supervisor or team leader is desperate to get rid of the incompetent staff member so they write a glowing reference and initiate a transfer to another section. The new section realises they have been duped and promotes the incompetent person to a higher level. As there are no positions available in that department at the higher level, this method is used as a means of transferring them elsewhere.
Thus, with little effort and no oversight, the most bumbling, facile fool is now in charge of the office.
Drunk on their own vaulted rise to the top, their sense of self-importance is inflated and their ineptitude flows through the entire staff.