EARS Te Rauawa

Confidential, impartial, informal and independent advice and resolution services for workplace issues for university staff.

Working together is not always easy.  At times, tension, conflict, and inappropriate behaviour can occur at work.  When this happens, it can sometimes be hard to know where to go for guidance and support.  To help our university staff when this occurs, we have developed a confidential, impartial, informal service which can provide independent advice and resolution assistance for workplace issues.  This service is called Employee Advisory and Resolution Service (EARS)—Te Rauawa

Te Rauawa, the Māori name for this service, refers to the carefully crafted piece of wood that was secured to the hull of traditional Māori waka (canoes) to raise the height of the sides and help keep water out.  Te Rauawa alludes to the core Māori principle of kaitiakitanga (protection) and the spirit of Te Rauawa can be expressed in this whakataukī (proverb):

He moana pukepuke ka ekengia e te waka - a rough sea can be navigated.

The purpose of EARS—Te Rauawa

EARS—Te Rauawa is a confidential, impartial and informal service that is independent of Human Resources at the University.  This service provides staff with the opportunity to discuss their workplace concerns with an independent party and to obtain advice and support on a confidential and off-the-record basis.

Any university staff member (whether permanent, fixed term or casual) can use EARS—Te Rauawa.

EARS—Te Rauawa is available to staff to talk through workplace issues. The service provides guidance and coaching to help staff manage issues they are concerned about and with the permission of all people involved, can also provide an informal resolution service involving facilitated discussions or restorative processes.

Some examples of the workplace issues that staff could seek advice and guidance for include:

  • working relationships or environments staff find difficult
  • conflict
  • performance concerns
  • issues relating to appointment or promotion processes
  • experienced or observed instances of bullying, harassment or discrimination.

Contacting EARS—Te Rauawa to discuss your concerns does not affect your ability to pursue any other options under the University’s formal policies and procedures.  Instead, it offers you an opportunity to discuss these options—as well as informal resolution options—on a confidential basis.  EARS—Te Rauawa will not participate in any formal processes relating to workplace issues, such as investigations or disciplinary issues.

Contact EARS—Te Rauawa

University staff can contact EARS Te Rauawa anonymously through the EARS Te Rauawa Staff Intranet page or by email to ears@vuw.ac.nz.

How EARS—Te Rauawa is different from other university services

EARS—Te Rauawa doesn’t replace other avenues within the University that are already available to provide you with help and support. These include:

  • talking to your manager
  • contacting Human Resources
  • using the existing university policies or procedures (such as making a complaint or a disclosure)
  • contacting the manager, staff wellness
  • contacting the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)
  • contacting your union (e.g. the Tertiary Education Union).

EARS—Te Rauawa is a confidential, impartial and informal service, independent of university Human Resources. It is off the record, so contacting the service will not notify the University of an issue. There are many advantages to off the record conversations.  These will be fully discussed with you by the EARS—Te Rauawa team.

EARS—Te Rauawa is not a counselling service. Counselling support is available through EAP.

Emergency support and other services

Do not contact EARS—Te Rauawa in an emergency. If there is an imminent risk of serious harm to you or someone else, contact emergency services on 111.

EARS—Te Rauawa team

The University has unique access to expertise in restorative practice through the Diana Unwin Chair in Restorative Justice. EARS—Te Rauawa is operated under the Diana Unwin Chair of Restorative Justice.

Confidentiality and privacy when using EARS—Te Rauawa

The information you give EARS—Te Rauawa will be used to respond to your request and provide you with appropriate guidance. Your personally identifiable information, such as your name and contact details and the nature of your issue, is confidential.

The EARS—Te Rauawa service provider you discuss your concerns with will maintain confidentiality of your personal information and concerns unless they have your informed consent to do otherwise.  The only exception to this is if they consider there is a serious risk of physical harm or health and safety in which case they may take appropriate steps.

EARS—Te Rauawa may report and make recommendations to the University on issues or themes arising from the service, but this will always be done in a way that maintains confidentiality, unless you request otherwise.

EARS—Te Rauawa complies with the University’s privacy policy.