FlexiGroup New Zealand (NZ) has implemented a company-wide Family Violence Support Policy committing to taking action in advance of the upcoming Victims Protec-tions Bill legislation which comes into effect in April 2019.
The policy provides a range of support mechanisms for employees who are victims of domestic violence including allocating 10 days paid leave to be used for medical appointments, legal proceedings and other activities related to domestic violence.
Other support mechanisms can include changes to employee patterns of working hours, location of work, work telephone number and email address. Additionally, if a team mem-ber is supporting a colleague who is a is a victim of domestic violence they can take up to five days’ unpaid leave to accompany the victim of family violence to court, hospital or to help with the care of children.
FlexiGroup NZ worked closely with Women’s Refuge in the development of the Family Violence Support Policy and has already trained 50% of managers in ‘Supporting victims and users of family violence’ workshops, helping to raise awareness around the different types of family violence, identification of possible signs and behaviours of victims and users of violence and supporting victims or users of violence.
Dr Ang Jury, Chief Executive of Women’s Refuge says: “We applaud FlexiGroup NZ for developing and instituting a Family Violence Support Policy. For victims of domes-tic violence, having a workplace that is not only compassionate, but aware of the signs that an individual is in an abusive situation can make all the difference. We hope to work with many more organisations as this approach makes it easier for individuals to come forward, feel supported and receive the assistance they require.”
FlexiGroup NZ Chief Executive Officer, Chris Lamers says promoting open dialogue in the workplace on domestic violence is an important step in addressing New Zealand’s troubling rate of domestic violence.
“Family violence isn’t an easy topic to talk about but it is in silence that it continues to happen with almost 80% of cases going unreported. If we’re going to truly face up to the problem, as a nation everyone including businesses and employers need to step up and do their bit to break the silence and promote change.
“It’s about fostering a workplace environment where everyone is clear that domestic violence of any form is never OK but it’s absolutely OK to talk about it, to reach out for help – and have the reassurance that non-judgemental support is available.”
Family violence statistics in New Zealand:
• New Zealand has one of the highest rates of family violence in the developed world, as one in three women experience domestic violence and one in six men will experience sexu-al violence.
• It is estimated that there could be around 500,000 family violence victims in New Zealand, of which more than 40% are in paid employment.
• 76% of family violence incidents are NOT reported to Police.
• Family violence is estimated to cost the country between $4.1 and $7 billion each year.
Vodafone today revealed the identity of the newest member of its team, a Digital Assistant. Introducing Kiri. She’s down-to-earth, easy to talk to, warm and empathetic. Kiri is tech savvy and loves to help customers get the most out of their products and services.
In a Kiwi-first, customers will be able to interact with Kiri in-store later this year.
Kiri’s strikingly life-like appearance relies on real time rendering and AI, using FaceMe’s latest techniques in machine learning based animation to produce a compelling experience. Skin texture such as pores and lines are carefully sculpted, and light reflection and roughness have been detailed by FaceMe’s artists.
The result is a one-of-a-kind Digital Assistant tailored specifically for Vodafone’s Kiwi audience.
Vodafone Customer Operations Director Helen van Orton describes the customer-led process of bringing Kiri to life.
“Customers tell us they want the experience of engaging with a Digital Assistant to be seamless, emotive and engaging – characteristics that are critical for creating trust. Customers want to feel valued and that their needs are taken care of.
“Kiri will help out with routine tasks so that our retail staff can help solve more challenging issues for clients. The technology also has the potential to create whole new job categories where frontline employees monitor conversations to continuously improve them, creating brand new professions in our evolving digital world,” van Orton said.
Natural, engaging interaction requires a less than 200 millisecond response time. Kiri’s processing has been optimised for speed and accuracy to create an experience that feels instantaneous. Computer vision technology allows Kiri to ‘see’ and behave like humans. For example, using her situational awareness system, Kiri can naturally respond when people walk up to her, and greet them proactively.
FaceMe CEO Danny Tomsett believes emotional connection is key for interaction.
“FaceMe has analysed what creates great experiences and which human qualities we need to reproduce – and supercharge – using AI technology. Through advanced Digital Human EQ combined with the IBM Watson conversational platform, we have created a great customer experience that leaves people feeling deeply content and satisfied with each conversation,” Tomsett said.
Kiri is currently in training and will start working in select Vodafone retail stores later this year.
“I’m really excited about my new role at Vodafone and to talk to our customers. I’m still learning, but in future I want to answer those complicated technical questions. I can’t wait to meet everyone!” Kiri said.
Draft decision on contributions to $50 million telecommunications development levy
The Commerce Commission today released its draft determination on how much 17 telecommunications providers will each pay towards the Government’s $50 million Telecommunications Development Levy (TDL) for 2017/18.
The Government uses the annual levy to pay for telecommunications infrastructure and services which are not commercially viable including the relay service for the deaf and hearing-impaired, broadband for rural areas, and improvements to the 111 emergency service.
The levy, about 1% of telecommunications services revenue, is paid by providers earning more than $10 million per year from operating a telecommunications network, including providing internet, mobile, and data services to consumers.
Today’s draft determination determines proposes that Spark, Vodafone, Chorus, and 2degrees will collectively pay more than 90% of the $50 million levy. Voyager and MyRepublic will be liable for the TDL for the first time this year due to their growing revenues.
A copy of the draft determination can be found here.
The Commission invites submissions on its draft determination via email email@example.com by 5pm, 8 November 2017. The Commission expects to release its final determination in December.
The Telecommunications Development Levy (TDL) was established by legislation in June 2011 and is set at $50 million a year until 2019. The Commission is required to prepare an annual TDL liability allocation determination in accordance with the Telecommunications Act 2001. The legislation requires a draft determination to be prepared and for submissions to be allowed on the draft before a final determination is prepared.
Voyager and MyRepublic qualify for the TDL as their telecommunications revenues now each exceed $10 million. REANNZ will no longer be liable following a High Court decision that it operates a private, not public, telecommunications network.
More information on the TDL is available on our website.
NZ Transport Agency wins global award for putting customers at the heart of decision making
The NZ Transport Agency’s commitment to best practice engagement has been recognised on the global stage, with the Northern Corridor Improvements (NCI) project winning the IAP2 International Project of the Year at the International Core Values Awards.
The award recognised the 2016-17 planning and consenting stage of the project to build a new motorway connection between SH1 and SH18 on Auckland’s North Shore to complete the Western Ring Route, as well as increasing transport choices for everyone by extending the Northern Busway and creating over 7kms of new walking and cycling paths.
The NCI project team was honoured last night at a ceremony on the Gold coast after competing against the best of the best from IAP2 award finalists around the world including New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United States.
In announcing the award, the judges said that “public participation practice at the ’empower’ end of the spectrum is rare and has lifted the bar on tried and true practice and handed decision-making back to the communities with outstanding outcomes such as bike and walking tracks becoming standard for new motorways as an outcome of this excellent process”.
“The engagement team had very clear objectives. The role of the public was well defined and there were higher levels of engagement for stakeholders who represented key groups and who would more likely influence decisions. They worked hard to empower, collaborate and involve.”
As well as the top project award, NCI also won the Australasian Project of the Year across all categories and the individual Australasian Planning Category award.
“This is not only a great result for the team and for the Transport Agency but most importantly for the communities we worked so closely with,” says the Transport Agency’s Chief Executive Fergus Gammie.
“It shows the value of putting our customers at the centre of everything we do and it’s wonderful to see those efforts recognised on a world stage as we work to build a safe, connected transport system that works for everyone.”
Mr Gammie says the awards are a reflection of outstanding team work across the Transport Agency. The awards are shared with the Transport Agency’s engineering consultant team from Aurecon NZ, who managed the delivery of the design, consenting and national Board of Inquiry approvals stage of this major project.
The NCI project started construction in April this year and will be delivered in stages by the Northern Corridor Improvements Alliance over the next four years.
IAP2 is an international association of members who seek to promote and improve the practice of public participation that affects the public interest in nations throughout the world. IAP2 awards annually a series of awards in Best Practice known as the Core Values awards.
A new guide gives people in the automotive industry an overview of electric vehicles (EVs) and equips them to answer customers’ most common queries.
The Dealer’s Guide to Electric Vehicles was launched online today by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) as part of the Government’s information campaign to accelerate the uptake of EVs in New Zealand.
A third of New Zealanders are now open to buying a battery EV, according to EECA’s market research. This number will continue to rise as battery technology improves, charging stations spread across the country and EVs become more price competitive with petrol and diesel cars, says EECA Chief Executive Andrew Caseley.
“Car buyers are increasingly likely to ask dealers what it’s like to drive and own EVs,” he says. “This guide gives dealers an introduction to the technology to help them make the most of this rapidly evolving market.”
It includes the key reasons car buyers are motivated to start looking for an EV, essential information dealers should include in their EV ads, how to help customers decide which type of EV will best suit their needs, and information on EV batteries and charging.
While the guide targets dealers, the information provides useful background to others in the industry including automotive workshops and collision repair shops.
Mr Caseley acknowledged industry experts that had input to the guide, including the AA, MTA, MIA and VIA.
Hard copies of the Dealer’s Guide will be distributed to dealers and others in the industry in November.
A New Zealand developed, wool-based filter technology is one of several filter systems being evaluated by NASA to protect astronauts in the Orion spacecraft on upcoming deep-space exploration missions.
Designed by Auckland based wool innovators Lanaco, the HelixTM filter is sourced from the company’s purpose bred AstinoTM sheep and is being tested for use in Orion’s emergency life-support system in the event of on-board fires.
The Helix filter could be used as a pre-filter layer for emergency personal equipment and cabin air systems, preventing clogging in other filter layers by removing thick contaminants like molten plastic.
Shaun Tan, Lanaco Head of Technology, recently returned from the Johnson Space Centre in Houston and is confident that the Helix filter can deliver on NASA’s requirements.
“In the case of the Orion life-support system, the Helix filter is being tested for particle loading capacity, breathability, flame resistance and the ability to function even if exposed to Orion’s water-based fire extinguisher systems.”
“The Helix filter is currently used in protective equipment in high contaminant situations like construction and mining, but firefighting in space represents a new challenge for our R&D team” says Tan.
Lanaco’s wool-filter technology made headlines in 2017 following the launch of anti-pollution face masks now popular in several Asian and Indian mega-cities.
Lanaco CEO Nick Davenport says that recent successes demonstrate the versatility and effectiveness of wool-based air filtration.
“Wool is an outstanding fibre. Its electrostatic properties catch small harmful particles, its protein structure captures gases and harmful toxins and yet the fibre is bacteria and flame resistant. We believe in wool as a sustainable, innovative solution to combat air-pollution.”
“The Lanaco story is one of New Zealand high-country farmers producing the world’s greatest natural fibre to protect people from poor quality air. To now be playing a role in supporting deep space exploration is a testament to the farmers, scientists and manufacturers that have pushed Lanaco to the forefront of filter technology” says Davenport.
New Zealand has completed its domestic procedures to ratify the PACER Plus trade and development agreement.
“We have notified Tonga as Depositary for PACER Plus. New Zealand is the first country to ratify the agreement,” Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker said.
“I am pleased the other 10 signatories showed clear momentum towards ratification at the recent Solomon Islands meeting. Our goal is to bring this agreement into force as soon as we can in 2019.
“New Zealand, together with Australia, is providing significant development assistance to Pacific signatories to support their efforts to ratify in coming months. This reflects New Zealand’s long held view that PACER Plus is primarily a development FTA.”
The sooner PACER Plus enters into force, the sooner Pacific signatories can receive further benefits as part of the implementation phase.
“Pacific signatories will have a direct say in how those funds are spent as we work towards the goal of creating jobs and increasing prosperity in the Pacific,” David Parker said.
“I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with other Pacific Island countries to unlock the further benefits of this agreement.”
PACER Plus comes into force 60 days after at least eight of the eleven signatories have ratified. The other signatories are: Australia, the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
For more information about PACER Plus, including the full text of the agreement and various factsheets, visit https://www.mfat.govt.nz/PACER Plus
Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi has welcomed the passing of the Bill enabling market studies, advising the first market study could be confirmed by Christmas as the Government moves to protect consumers and promote business.
The legislation enables the Commerce Commission to assess whether markets are working effectively, and compels businesses to provide information.
“This is part of the Government’s agenda to build a productive, sustainable and inclusive economy,” says Mr Faafoi, “and to ensure everyday New Zealanders are getting a fair deal.
“It’s also about ensuring honest businesses are able to thrive: the market studies function is an important new feature of New Zealand’s competition regime. Market studies can identify factors preventing, restricting or distorting competition and reducing consumer welfare in markets subject to the studies.”
As a result of a market study, the Government can receive in-depth research and advice on what is needed to ensure New Zealand consumers get affordable products and services.
“Simply, we need New Zealand to be a place where consumers are getting a fair deal and where business are also competing on a level playing field. In order to make good progress because this is important and I know consumers are feeling the pinch in a number of areas – I have written to my colleagues across Government as to which markets needed market study, and I’ll be looking to quickly consider their responses.
“I hope to be able to make an announcement on the first market study in December.”
In addition to authorising market studies, the Bill strengthens the regulatory regime to better protect users of airport services from the exercise of market power by airport companies. It also ensures the Commerce Commission has the tools it needs to promote competition and protect consumers.
Further information about the Bill is available here.
Emirates Team New Zealand and Spark announced today that Spark will be the official telecommunications and connectivity partner for the team and for the 36th America’s Cup events that will take place in Auckland in 2020-2021, incorporating the Christmas Race, the Prada Cup and the America’sCup Match.
The agreement means Spark will provide Emirates Team New Zealand with telecommunications and digital connectivity, both on and off the water, as well as exclusive rights to provide telecommunications services and connectivity within areas controlled by the organising company, America’s Cup Event Limited and Challenger of Record 36.
“We have partnered with Spark, in the belief that their expertise in data and connectivity can help give us a competitive edge, and ensure the team is always connected in all mission-critical aspects of design, testing and to put us in the best place for racing on the water,” said Emirates Team New Zealand CEO, Grant Dalton.
“As America’s Cup racing becomes more and more driven by technology innovation, the crew on the boat and the team back at the base rely on the immediate availability of real time data to get the best performance on the water. Seamless connectivity can make the difference in gaining that competitive edge. We saw that for sure in Bermuda and there’s no doubt that this will continue to be a differentiator for the racing in 2021.”
Spark’s Technology Director, Mark Beder said 5G – the latest generation of wireless technology – was arriving at a perfect time to maximise opportunities for the America’s Cup. “We want to make the 36thAmerica’s Cup an international showcase opportunity for many of the advances that will be enabled by 5G – and our partnership with both Emirates Team New Zealand and the event itself will put us in the best position to deliver to this brief.
“Beyond that, we see huge opportunities to use the 5G network to support and innovate with Emirates Team New Zealand and to support the connectivity required for the America’s Cup village in Auckland.
“Digital connectivity is what we do best, and we want to align the development of Spark’s network and services with the spirit of innovation that Emirates Team New Zealand has always shown at the America’s Cup and will no doubt be doing so again in 2021.
“Emirates Team New Zealand and Spark share a classic Kiwi mindset and heritage – we couldn’t be prouder to be supporting Grant and his team with cutting-edge connectivity.”
Spark’s new 5G Innovation Lab, which will showcase the potential of 5G and allow companies to test and develop future applications over a pre-commercial 5G network, will be based in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct. When it opens later this year, it will be just a few hundred metres from the Emirates Team New Zealand base. The close co-location creates great opportunities to start testing in liveenvironment with real world applications from later this year.
“Connectivity and communications are key to the success of the 36th America’s Cup presented by Prada. We are pleased to welcome Spark onboard and look forward to them providing technology in the America’s Cup village in Auckland that will enhance the visitor experience and offer a valuable service to the teams challenging for the Prada Cup,” said Laurent Esquier, CEO of the Challenger of Record (COR36).