NZALPA Medical and Welfare Director Andy Pender reflects on the significance of the recent recognition of Herwin Bongers and the Peer Assistance Network at the New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety Awards 2019.
Awareness and interest in the work of the Peer Assistance Network (PAN) received a major boost with the recognition the programme received at this year’s New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety Awards, announced in late May.
PAN was a finalist in the ‘Best Initiative to promote better worker health’ category of the prestigious awards, and NZALPA member and former Medical and Welfare Director, Captain Herwin Bongers was awarded a special judges’ commendation award.
We were right up there with the big organisations – including Air New Zealand, Christchurch International Airport, and Vodafone which was the ultimate winner of our category.
We are enormously satisfied with the exposure and the recognition PAN received on the night, from the judges and from all the other attendees. People were really interested to learn more about the work of PAN – how long we’ve been running, how we work and how we bring everyone onto the same page whether they are a pilot or an Air Traffic Controller and regardless of whether they work for an airline, an aero club or Airways.
The audience definitely related to our situation and was able to focus on the issues. As details of our entry were shared we could sense that everyone in the room was thinking about what happens when they, or a family member, gets on an aeroplane. Just like us, they want confidence that the people up the front of the plane are having the best day they could possibly have.
We weren’t seeking public recognition of PAN, but we can definitely benefit from it.
There were many contacts made and much swapping of business cards at the awards night and already we’ve received an invitation to speak about PAN at a government-funded mental health and wellbeing conference later in the year.
We are a group of volunteers, but we have a story to tell and we can also learn from others we meet along the way. We can learn a lot about how other programmes are run and there’s always an opportunity to review what we are doing and make it better for everyone – pilots, ATCs and the travelling public.
Herwin Bonger’s recognition was very special too – particularly as it was the evening’s only judges’ commendation that recognised an individual. It was definitely Herwin’s moment in the spotlight and this was very well deserved. The judges spoke about Herwin’s role in getting PAN airborne and then Herwin was given an opportunity to speak to the audience.
The whole evening was absolutely massive and so satisfying for all of us who are involved with PAN. We have always been very proud of the awareness we have within the aviation industry but the PAN story is reaching further and may even inspire others to think about what they can achieve in their own workplaces.
PAN is something we can all be very proud of.
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The Workplace Safety Awards are organised by Safeguard Magazine and supported by WorkSafe New Zealand. Request a free sample copy of Safeguard magazine HERE.