Transcript of Conan and Barbara talking about their work as case managers - extended clip
Conan: A case manager plans a prison sentence from end to end. We could schedule a program for the violence, and then we could also schedule something for the alcohol abuse. Many prisoners come in with the view that employment is their biggest issue. Whatever they seem interested in, we can give them means by which to get qualifications, and help them gather a bit of a portfolio for when they're released.
Barbara: Then working with them, encouraging, motivating, supporting them throughout that sentence to achieve those activities.
Conan: We'll oversee everything that ideally goes on within the prisoner's sentence. And the average day would be interviewing prisoners, discussing issues about their offending, whatever issues they have at the time, whether it's with their environment, and the units. So we'll come back and record everything. We do case notes. We do risk assessments. We provide parole reports. It can be at least 50% administrative work. If you're particularly quick on the computer, then you'll do well, and you can spend more time with the face to face.
Regularly, there's meetings with colleagues, custodial staff, psych services, and programme facilitators and probation. We get together and we provide expertise from our relevant roles, to help a prisoner through whatever issue they might be going through at the time.
Barbara: I actually do feel safe in my job. I always make a point not to become complacent about being aware of my own safety, and knowing who to call, having the right equipment so that you can call on the radio if you need it, and knowing what to do if the actual conversation gets elevated.
Conan: Having fun at times when it's appropriate, is a good release. Core qualities and attributes for this job, I'd say would be to want to help people change, be willing to deal with some really meaty issues and help people through those, to be able to work as part of an effective team, having a pretty calm manner about yourself - non-threatening. You've got to be actually a good communicator as well, verbally and written. Because there's a lot of paperwork and there's a lot of face to face contact.
Barbara: You need to be able to empathise, but have really strong professional boundaries because you're working in an environment where, perhaps, you will be tested by prisoners at times. You need to be honest. You need to be reliable, and time management skills are a must. It's really important to be able to manage your workload as a case manager, because as I've said, it varies from day to day, week to week. So we need to be able to prioritise and time manage all that.
It is very important to have a really good attitude to all cultures. I mean, there is a big percentage of Maori in New Zealand prisons. We do have an obligation under the treaty, to actually provide services and programmes particularly related to Maori. Also our staff, I mean we're all, very multicultural.
Conan: You're not always dealing with people who want to change. And that can be a difficult thing, because you can come in, with the best intentions, and someone's just going to not want a bar of it. Generally, for everybody there, there's a way around whatever obstacle a prisoner might have at the time, so we can always find a way.
Barbara: The way that I know that I've made a difference is if somebody doesn't come back to prison. Another way is if somebody actually says something like, "you know when you said such and such three months ago, well I've had a think about that, and now, I didn't want to go and attend any programmes, but now I'm going to."