“The Family Reference Group are our most important stakeholders, and this agreement sets out the processes behind our engagement,” Mr Gawn says.
“The Agency speaks to the Family Reference Group on an almost daily basis, in one form or another – updating them, giving them information and seeking their opinions. We have been working hard to ensure the trust we are earning with the Family Reference Group is maintained.
“The agreement talks about a relationship based on fairness, respect and transparency – those are important principles for both the Agency and the Family Reference Group.”
The Stand With Pike Family Reference Group represents the overwhelming majority of the Pike River families (28 out of 31 families) in matters relating to and arising from the re-entry and recovery of the drift. That does not preclude any Pike River family from contacting the Agency or Family Reference Group at any time, and any matters can be discussed in confidence.
The agreement covers the sharing of information; timeliness; openness and transparency; advice shared with the Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry; dealing with media; and arrangements to support the Family Reference Group with reasonable costs of engagement, including any required travel.
Family Reference Group Family Liaison Anna Osborne confirms the agreement sets out in writing the processes and ways the Agency and group work.
“We’re working closely with the Agency, and this formalises our arrangements,” Anna says. In the agreement, the Family Reference Group applauds the principle of partnership as immensely valuable, and says it should be encouraged as a model for governance.
“However the FRG also notes that non-government partners in similar partnerships should be resourced sufficiently to provide for equal partnership between parties,” the agreement states.
The partnership agreement will be reviewed in four months.