EAPA-SA’s KZN Chapter represents a diverse group of EAPs within the province who work in private practice, government, large corporations and EAP service provider companies. The current committee comprises:
- Chairperson: Mr JM (Mzwandile) Gumede
- Deputy Chairperson: Dr Serena Frank
- Secretary: Ms Anuysha Naidu
- Membership Officer: Ms Genevieve Poodhun
- Member: Mr Mbuso Ntombela
- Member: Ms Nonhlanhla Nkosi
Chairperson, JM Gumede is employed as a Provincial Employee Health and Wellness Manager in the Office of the Premier, KwaZulu-Natal. With his main qualification as a Demographer, he understands the need to provide a solid foundation for Employee Assistance Practitioners (EAPs) to render effective and professional support in the workplace for the benefit of all stakeholders, the employer, employees and the customers. As a Provincial Manager he coordinates the EA Programme designed to assist more than 220 000 employees in the employ of the Provincial Government of KwaZulu-Natal.
Chairman JM Gumede says: “The focus of the KZN Chapter in 2017 is mainly to empower the EAPs and professionalise the EAP field. As such relevant accredited training workshops would be organised. The Chapter will continue to support the Professional Designations project as it is a vehicle towards the full recognition of the contribution of EAP in the workplace. The employers would be engaged so that they begin to understand the benefits of the programme and adopt it as a strategic intervention to improve productivity and wellbeing of employees. It is necessary to also recruit practitioners from the private sector to join the Association which in the past were very active.
The Chapter at some stage was one of the biggest in the country but history saw it deteriorating and become inactive. In February 2015 a group of concerned practitioners convened an open meeting to start the process of reviving the KZN Chapter which led to the appointment of an interim committee to oversee the process. On 04 June 2015 a special meeting was held and the current Committee was appointed. Since relaunching, the chapter has not looked back. As at end of December 2016, the Chapter membership comprised 13 individual membership and 7 service providers.
The potential for more membership exists, and the task ahead is to market the benefits of the programme as well as streamline the process of professional designations. The database of potential members is well over 300, derived from the number of workplaces in KwaZulu-Natal.
The membership is dominated by the public sector. EAPs from the public service represent 90% and other 10%. A strategy to involve the private sector more would be implemented in 2017.
In 2016 the first wellness family day was convened by the Chapter and was a resounding success. It coincided with the celebration of the National Recreation Day. It was therefore adopted as an annual chapter event and everyone is looking forward to the 2017 event.
The Chapter and the EAPA-SA activities are supported by the Provincial Government of KwaZulu-Natal. This relationship is managed through the Office of the Premier. All provincial government departments are aware of the Association. This support has to be extended to municipalities and private sector companies. KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) is the largest public sector employer in the South Africa. With more than 220 000 employees in the Provincial Government alone, by adding municipalities , private sector and national departments resident in KZN , the number grows even more.
Although the majority of employee assistance practitioners are concentrated in the main centres in Durban and Pietermaritzburg, there are those who operate from the district and local offices based in small towns like Newcastle, Richards Bay, and Port Shepstone. The distance from Durban and Newcastle for example is about 400 kilometers, meaning approximately 4 hours drive by car. It is always a challenge for practitioners to attend all meetings. The commitment and dedication of members have made it possible to progress in spite of these challenges.
The repositioning of EAPA in KZN is bearing fruits. EAP sector is beginning to be recognized especially by Government. There are debates which aim to link the sector with structures in the work place. Members unanimously agree to move in speed in attaining a statutory status to regulate the sector.
The discussions at national level between the EAPA-SA Board and Government represented by the Ministry of Public Service and Administration should pay the direction to which the sector should move towards. The KZN Chapter is available and commits itself to be an active partner in the entire process.
KZN Chapter adopted a slogan which is used as inspiration and motivation to put extra efforts. KZN indeed is “Moving Wellness and EAP from Good to Great”.
To visit the chapter or contact the Chapter Chairperson, please visit their page https://www.eapasa.co.za/kwazulu-natal-chapter/