The Nelson Community Probation & Psychological Services (CPPS) have been sharing their knowledge and skills with Ni-Vanuatu Probation Officers as part of a New Zealand Agency for International Development (NZAID) project supported by the New Zealand Department of Corrections.
CPPS Service Manager, Alan Clarke says the Nelson office have been working with two Ni-Vanuatu Probation Officers over the last five months and are pleased to be welcoming a third this week.
“The probation service in Vanuatu was established in 2006 and is still evolving. The Department is working in collaboration with NZAID to provide technical advice and training to the Ni-Vanuatu both in Vanuatu and also here in New Zealand.
“There are around 160 offenders serving community based sentences in Vanuatu compared to 85,000 in New Zealand. While we have over 1,600 CPPS staff in New Zealand they have 12 probation staff in Vanuatu.”
Alan says the community based sentences available in Vanuatu are limited to community work, parole and supervision due to issues around communication because of geographical isolation.
“In Vanuatu, there is also still a strong focus on reconciliation through customary ceremonies so Probation Officers are heavily involved in these on a local village level.”
John Junior Ierogen has been a Probation Officer in Vanuatu for two years and looks after around 20-30 offenders. John says while he was in New Zealand he was impressed with the ‘Kiwi way of life’.
“There seems to be a lot more consideration for people of different classes, races and disabilities here in New Zealand compared to Vanuatu. One of the main differences I saw was the number of programmes available to offenders in the community. Back home, we don’t have programmes and rely on counsellors and Chiefs to provide individuals with support.”
John says while experiencing the beautiful country-side and the great food in New Zealand, he learnt a lot about time management.
“The staff here have been fantastic. The training course we undertook has taught me how to write short and concise reports for the judge while being able to assess offenders’ risks and needs.”
John says he would recommend other Ni-Vanuatu Probation Officers to undertake training in New Zealand.
“It was a very big eye-opener for me. The only downside was that I didn’t have enough time to learn everything.”
Darval Simon has been a Probation Officer in Vanuatu for almost two years and is extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with the Nelson CPPS staff.
“We have received a lot of support from the staff here which has been great as there has been lots of work to do here, especially with the addition of home detention and community detention sentences.
“I have learnt a lot about sentence management, report writing and undertaking assessments and will be recommending this training to fellow colleagues in Vanuatu.”
Alan says although they were sad to say goodbye to Darval and John they look forward to working with Senior Probation Officer Daniel Tavoa who arrived from Vanuatu on the weekend for a one month placement.
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