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[Media Release - OPSC] Public Service Induction Training June 2021

Friday 18 June 2021

Human Resources Manager Teresa Tararo from the Office of the Public Service Commissioner (OPSC) conducted the final Public Service Induction training (Induction) for this financial year from Monday 14 June to Thursday 17 June 2021 to employees from the National Environment Service (NES) and Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MFEM).

Tararo acknowledged the importance of collaboration across the Public Sector to deliver this training. “The participation of Denis Heather and Metua Taurarii from the Office of Ombudsman was particularly significant for the participants, given the important role that the Official Information Act 2008 plays in ensuring that our rights as citizens of this country are protected and that the services delivered by Public Administrators is above scrutiny and is transparent and accountable.”

In this financial year, 430 public servants from the Island Governments in the Pa Enua Tokerau, Infrastructure Cook Islands, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Finance and Economic Management, Seabed Minerals Authority, and the National Environment Service, completed the induction training.

The Public Service Induction training serves several purposes:

1. It informs employees about some of the history of the Cook Islands voyage towards self-Government - 800AD-1350 early migration era; 1595-1813 European discovery era; 1821 - Present Day - Christianity era; 1865-1965 Constitution era.

2. It provides an introduction to the working environment of the Cook Islands Public Service (Machinery of Government);

3. Sets the minimum expectations of behaviour by confirming the values for all Public Servants (Public Service Values - Honesty, Impartiality, Service, Transparency, Accountability, Respect, Effectiveness, and Efficiency, Code of Conduct in the Workplace and Workplace Bullying);

4. It allows the employees to understand their roles and responsibilities in terms of the larger Public Service (Human Resources policies); and

5. Helps retain our employees, if they are familiar with their rights and responsibilities as employees (Leave entitlements).

The Inductions are one tool to help the OPSC achieve the vision of the Public Sector Strategy 2016-2025 which is a Public Service of Excellence. The Strategy confirms that we need to meet the following three key priority goals to deliver on the vision:

· Progressive and high performing employees

· Relevant and fit for purpose Public Sector

· Responsive service delivery.

All new employee to the Public Service must complete the Agency’s Induction Programme and the Public Service Induction Programme within their first six months of employment - a requirement set out in the Cook Islands Government Recruitment Policy July 2017.

Issues of concern identified by many of the participants in training for this financial year included – clarification around leave entitlements, in particular, whether it can be carried forward, or if it may be lost if not used up in a financial year; how to raise grievance matters with management and the reporting mechanisms and processes to follow; and the general lack of information or knowing where to access CIGOV HR policies.

Feedback received on the training demonstrates the value and relevance of the Induction training with many confirming their enlightenment about the work that they do in the Public Service which enabled them to reflect on their roles as Public Servants. Moreover, many were appreciative about learning about the history of the Cook Islands and the Human Resource Policies. Finally, participants confirmed that the Induction provided a safe space for staff to share their –good and bad - experiences in the work place.

The next induction Training is scheduled for Monday 19 July 2021 to Thursday 22 July 2021 – the first in the new financial year.