A set of new expectations for government agencies will help ensure survivors of national disasters are better supported.
Andrew Little, the minister responsible for the Pike River re-entry, has today launched the “Working With Survivors Model Standards”. It’s been co-authored by the Stand With Pike Families Reference Group and the Public Service Commission, in partnership with survivors of other disasters such as March 15, Whakaari and Aromoana.
“Following the 2010 explosion the Pike River survivors felt let down by the state,” said Little. “They say it would have made the biggest difference if agencies had empowered survivors, were upfront, and had worked together for the benefit of all current and future survivors. That is what the new expectations seek to do.”
There are three elements to the new standards. Firstly, survivors must be empowered and have support to make decisions. Secondly, survivors need to know what happened through open and honest communication. And thirdly, public servants must work together to make sure survivors get clear messages and equitable support.
“It means following and supporting the journey survivors go through,” explained Little. “In the immediate aftermath it’s about the necessities of life and reuniting loved ones. Next it’s helping with the adjustment to the new normal. Finally it’s getting to the bottom of what happened, learning from it, and promoting healing.”
The new expectations have been described by the government as a “first step” in a journey of continual improvement. They will be updated in the future as survivors and agencies share experiences and ideas, said Little.