A WORD FROM . . . Dylan Rushbrook, Central Otago District Council group manager - community vision

Imagine just quietly going about your job and totally out of the blue being aggressively approached by a stranger verbally abusing you.

That was the reality one of our contractors faced only a few days ago.

Central Otago has a proud reputation of standing up and supporting one another through tough times, finding solutions that most can be happy with.

We pride ourselves on being open, honest and humble people who get things done.

For the most part, I think we are still that.

But there is a growing portion of our community that is disgruntled and angry, who direct their frustration at seemingly nameless organisations with no regard for the human being on the other end.

Prior to working at CODC I worked in the private sector with some well-known and well-respected New Zealand businesses.

Those businesses, and indeed myself, were not immune to making mistakes — after all, we are only human.

But how those mistakes are received is very different in the private sector.

Mistakes are considered a learning opportunity — fail fast and all that.

If you ignore it, you are enabling it.

One of the things I’ve come to realise over the last four years at council is the mistakes you make are very public.

Given every one of us is a human being, we are prone to making mistakes, just like everybody else.

A moan and groan when things don’t quite go to plan is totally understood and par for the course in any service industry.

Equally, there is nothing wrong with public scrutiny, after all it is public money.

But abuse, intimidation, threats of physical violence and even death threats — no way.

In recent time we have seen a significant rise in personal abuse directed at staff, contractors, volunteers, elected members and even family members. The abuse directed at people who go to work everyday to try to help their communities should be totally unacceptable to everyone.

Councils aren’t some faceless entity, they consist of members of the community who contribute to many things outside of work.

In our small communities they are parent helpers, sports coaches, club volunteers and so on.

You can help. If you see or hear someone heading down that path, please step in and remind them there are people they are hurting — people like me.

If you ignore it, you are enabling it.

Friday, May 19 is Pink Shirt Day.

Council staff will be showing their support; you can find out more at pinkshirtday.org.nz

Korero mai, korero atu, mauri tu, mauri ora!

Speak up, stand together, stop bullying!