An investigation into alleged inappropriate behavior by some pupils at the New Zealand Broadcasting School (NZBS) uncovered allegations of an atmosphere of bullying as well as sexual harassment and racism.
In September, the Ara Institute in Canterbury, of which the NZBS is a part, launched an investigation into the school following a scathing review by MediaWorks, which revealed widespread harassment, bullying and racism within the media company.
The report covered the period from February 2019 to October 2021 and was commissioned by Ara’s interim chief executive, Darren Mitchell, and led by Richard Raymond QC.
All current and former NZBS students and guardians during the relevant period were invited to participate in the review.
The investigation found no evidence of bullying or harassment by tutors towards students, but in some streams there was a culture of bad behavior among some students which had a negative impact on well-being others – including sexual harassment, bullying and racism.
Ara acknowledged the report, which made 60 recommendations. The institute said it would implement all 60 recommendations.
“It is simply not acceptable that the type of behaviors reported to Mr. Raymond should take hold and go unchecked by our organization’s personnel,” Mitchell said in a statement.
“We recognize and regret the impact this behavior has had on a number of our students.”
Mitchell went on to say that students and staff members expect their health, safety and well-being to be a top priority.
He said he pledged to act quickly to fix what was uncovered in the investigation.
“The staff at Ara is dedicated to student success and I’m confident they share that commitment.”
The report’s recommendations included:
Professional development and staff training
Improved mental health services
Conduct of Students and Staff
The professional practical part of the diploma
Policies and Procedures
Harassment training for students and staff
Safety and Wellbeing of NZBS Trainees
Resolution and complaint mechanisms
Mitchell said these recommendations would benefit all of Ara – not just the NZBS.
The report also acknowledged that steps had been taken since the start of the investigation, including the “updating of the code of professional practice”, as well as policies relating to inappropriate behavior.
Ara says access to mental health and social work support has also increased. Ara board chair Therese Arseneau said she supports the changes.
“The board takes the findings of the report very seriously and clearly expects all recommendations to be considered,” Dr. Areseneau said. “The behavior change and other changes recommended by Richard Raymond are important and will require additional time and support.”
Mitchell also acknowledged and thanked the 51 current and former students and staff who came forward and were interviewed by the investigative team.
Ara provided support to all students and staff throughout this period, which would be available on an ongoing basis, the institute said.