By Anneke Smith of RNZ
The manager at the centre of a workplace investigation into bullying at Victim Support resigned before it wrapped up.
RNZ has now read a summary of the secret report that confirms one of the charity's managers was "likely" a bully and rude.
This manager was the original focus of the investigation; their behaviour was so bad the investigator wanted to recommend further action be taken.
This never eventuated because the manager resigned before the report was finished, along with another manager also accused of bullying.
"Had they remained employed by Victim Support, the recommendation would have been to undertake disciplinary investigations into their alleged behaviour," the executive summary reads.
RNZ first asked after the report in May and was told it would not be distributed beyond Victim Support's board, including to its primary funder the Ministry of Justice.
Since then, several ministry officials have read the full report under the condition they keep it confidential and staff have received an executive summary.
It says while the report did not find widespread bullying at Victim Support, there were regions where reports of bullying and unreasonable behaviour by a direct or senior manager was "very high".
The report did not find definitive findings of bullying because its writer could not put allegations to managers for response without exposing who the complainants were.
In any case, the report found the behaviour of two managers so bad it would have warranted further action, had they not left the charity before the report was finished.
"The report did find that the behaviour of one manager, who has since resigned, was likely bullying behaviour and/or one-off instances of rudeness and disciplinary investigations should occur," the executive summary reads.
"For another manager, the investigator was not able to make a finding of bullying but, had that manager still be employed, an employment investigation would have been warranted."
Victim Support volunteer Janine Schmidt was bullied by one of these managers, behaviour she complained about and the charity recently apologised for.
Having volunteered for more than a decade, she eventually returned for a fresh start but left for good a few weeks ago.
"I resigned, I don't want to work under an organisation that doesn't have enough respect for the volunteers to actually admit that what has happened is as bad as it is, and it's not only me."
Schmidt said she does not believe anything has changed and has lost confidence in the charity she once enjoyed working for.
"I've lost respect for the people at the top and my heart goes out to the people in offices that are actually doing the work."
"I'll miss sharing the experiences that I've had over the last 15 years with people that are coming through because there's not a lot of volunteers there that have been there for a while anymore.
"A big part of my heart at Victim Support was sharing my knowledge and my skills to the next line of people to do what we do."
The report's author, former detective Charlotte Stevens, was hired by Victim Support's board in April last year but this was only after it was directly told to take bullying allegations seriously.
It took an independent advocate to complain to the police, who then compiled a report for the Ministry of Justice who told the charity to look into them.
RNZ interviewed board chair Lorraine Scanlon about the executive summary.
She does not agree it took a whistleblower for bullying to be investigated and would not, or could not, specify how the organisation has now ensured it can respond faster to any future complaints.
"Unfortunately, I can't comment on individual staff or volunteers, processes within our organisation. I feel that I would be not respecting their privacy and confidentiality to talk about individual cases," Scanlon said.
Victim Support continues to flag confidentiality and privacy when asked questions about the secret report and the allegations it addresses.
This includes follow-up questions about the executive summary, like how long the likely bullying went on for and why it wasn't stopped.
"As an organisation, our people and well-being team were working with many processes to the best of their ability and capacity.
"And as chair of the board, I feel that they've done a reasonably good job. They need to have better capacity, they need to be better resourced and we've got a commitment to do that," Scanlon said.
RNZ has spoken to half a dozen former staff who do not agree with this sentiment and are concerned issues raised in the report persist at Victim Support.
Now, someone currently employed at Victim Support has gone on the record to say so too.
"I think there's a lot of information missing from the summary that shows the board isn't actually interested in fixing anything. They underestimate what staff think about that. People don't feel safe."
This person, who wanted to remain anonymous, said it was stressful working at the charity and employees didn't feel like they could approach its HR team and get an unbiased solution.
Victim Support was one of the very first things Kiri Allan asked after when she became the new Justice Minister and has since been briefed by a senior official who had read the report in full.
"I have been assured from my officials that the issues aren't systemic, rather they're isolated to key individuals within the organisation."
Allan has pledged a "victim-centric" approach to the justice portfolio but it is unclear if this will result in any material changes in the way Victim Support is funded and operates.
She has said the ministry will "actively monitor" that the report's recommendations are being implemented at the charity.
These include reviewing old complaints and apologising to victims as well as ensuring the HR department communicates better.