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Setting migrants up to succeed
An interview with John Chetwin,
Department of Labour, by Anthony Haas
'Meeting needs' focus
To explore the reasons we
need such a service, John Chetwin and DecisionMaker publisher Anthony
Haas considered a case study of a Korean businessman, coming here to set
up a plant. How do government officials meet his needs? How could a more
coherent – preferably proactive – response help to prevent
Allow me to introduce ...
The first step would have
been to facilitate introductory contact with the other services of the
Department of Labour. 'Here is the Employment Relations Service. They
will help you set up your employment relations, your contracts. They can
tell you the way things are done here. Here is the Occupational Safety
and Health Service to help you set up in a way that meets health and safety
criteria. Here is Community Employment Group.'
First point of contact
But what about when the migrant
is from the Pacific Islands and may not pay the migrant levy? People from
the Pacific Islands tend to have low incomes, and therefore the government
feels it is not reasonable to expect them to contribute to the migrant
levy. But that does not mean the Pacific migrants should be excluded from
the service. The officials concerned should still deliver the service
that is available.
The roles of the Cabinet
Minister and the head of the government agency, when a number of agencies
are involved in a problem, is partly as circuit breaker.
The most efficient problem solving, Chetwin believes, will be done at the local level. “It is much better it happens there rather than coming all the way to Wellington, and then goes across to another office, and back out again to the regional operation.” But there will always need to be circuit breakers, which will involve national office.
To make this work, a clear framework indicating the results expected (‘outcomes’ in the jargon) should be the foundation of the whole management framework of the organisation, and all members of the organisation should know the outcomes expected. But outcomes of other agencies, or of government as a whole, can also affect the way an organisation works. It isn’t as easy to find out about these. One of the resources Chetwin thinks we need is a place where officials can readily get information.
The government portal – www.govt.nz – works well if the information is available. However, the portal does not store information, it only provides access to it if the information is displayed there by the agency concerned in a way that is accessible.
“I think that e-government provides potentially an enormously powerful tool to enable the kind of joined-up service we’ve been talking about,” Chetwin says. “E- government is not going to provide the service, but it is going to enable its provision. I can see the day, not that far away, (in some ways it is already there), where the ordinary public servant providing a service in their city or region, can provide service and access information from their desktop with a max of two or three clicks.”