Celebrating Conservation Week 2018: A story of resilience

DOC Conservation Week is a great time to celebrate the day-in, day-out public service of dedicated DOC workers around Aotearoa New Zealand.

Claire Wooldridge Way with TaiahaAn exemplar of this dedication to service is Claire Wooldridge-Way, a PSA member and DOC biodiversity supervisor, who was honoured for this year in her role as a DOC Health & Safety representative.

On top of being awarded a Spirit of Service award at the public sector health and safety conference Unleashing The Power Of Engagement earlier this year, Claire took away the Supreme Award (a carved taiaha).

The awards were a recognition of her work following the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake in building a system to monitor not just physical safety, but also mental wellbeing.

As noted by DOC Director-General Lou Sanson, Claire's nomination was made more significant by being the only one by a government department and union together. "This reflects our increasingly strong collaboration and relationship with the PSA".

In Claire’s own words

Living in Renwick near Blenheim we were affected like the rest of the region by the earthquake. In the aftermath it became apparent that our DOC team had taken a shock - both in Kaikoura and in Blenheim. Indeed we are still finding out what our new normal is.

Responding to wellbeing is still so new. Give people a broken leg and everyone  knows what to do, but when someone has an outburst and acts irrationally or out of character it's much harder to both speak to them and to get a large organisation to respond.

Ultimately we were enabled to do whatever we thought was right for our team. We have had all kinds of people come and talk to us, we have had random acts of kindness days, we have given time off to sort out insurance, we have had "big red chair" opportunities for people to tell their stories.

Working out our culture of speaking up, saying 'we need help' or 'I can help' has been essential to our team being able to carry on.

Being recognised by my peers for something I felt is so important was pretty overwhelming.

For me personally this has all been a massive learning curve. I have learnt a huge amount about myself and am increasingly educated and informed to help others directly and indirectly