Marjo with a SRP programme participantFive Greymouth offenders on sentence with Corrections are taking part in the first community Short Rehabilitation Programme (SRP) of 2017.

Through the 24 session programme, participants delve into the events, situations and feelings that may have led to their offending and then build skills to both identify and manage them. They talk about the impact of these behaviours and their offending on others, and basically develop a good understanding about making and sustaining positive changes in their lives.

“The Short Rehabilitation Programme is a highly successful rehabilitation programme,” explains West Coast Service Manager Kelly Hill. “Its goal is to give participants the skills to identify situations that may lead to their offending and strategies which help them to manage and avoid these in the future.”

Designed for small groups of men or women, SRP is delivered in both community and prison settings to offenders on sentence for violence offences.

Marjo Bruijn is the Corrections programme facilitator delivering the four days a week, six week programme.

“These five men have been identified as highly motivated to make changes with their offending,” says Marjo, “and I am excited to work with them throughout their journey.”

“For the people who take part in this programme, it isn’t easy. Some participants drop out as they find they aren’t ready to make the shift in their lives or that it is too hard. It is a big step for the men involved. Those who stick it out are invariably very pleased they did.”

Many of the people on violence charges have poor communication skills and low self-esteem and confidence. The programme aims to give them tools and strategies to communicate more effectively and manage their emotions before they get out of hand.

Tom* (not his real name) is a good example of those people who benefit a great deal from the programme.

In his mid-30s and on sentence for violence offences, Tom says he started the programme not expecting very much, but as the programme has progressed he has connected with the group and now feels he can speak up and share the issues he is dealing with.

A lack of boundaries, poor communication skills in his relationships, and low self-esteem and self-worth, resulted in a build-up of anger over a long period of time and ultimately in violence and his offence.

He says that his newly acquired skills for talking about, working through and solving issues has enabled him  to be more assertive and clear in his communications. His relationships are benefitting as he sets healthy boundaries and he is confident in his ability to apply the new skills he has practised during the programme and to reach out if he needs support.

“While for many participants programmes like this are part of an evolutionary journey, with change happening over time, for others these programmes can be revolutionary and they make a big change as a result of the intervention,” says Marjo. “Things just ‘click’ for them.”

As the group grows together throughout the programme, personal stories are shared and used as real life examples of what can go wrong and what can be done to avoid or cope with negative situations in future.

The SRP programme introduces several models to help them with things such as communication and lifestyle balance.

“Michael*, is a graduate of the programme at the end of 2016, and an example of someone making big changes through the programme.

“He started the programme with very low self-esteem and self-worth,” says Marjo. “With the intervention and programme content, and with the help of his probation officer and the support of his peers on the programme he learnt awareness and skills that have enabled him to deal with really challenging situations in his personal life which he would have normally turned to violence. But instead he applied coping strategies he had learnt from the programme and achieved a positive outcome.”

Corrections is planning to run three further SRP programmes in 2017, two for men and one for women offenders.

“New ways of behaving require us to be conscious of alternatives and to practice these repetitively until they become second nature,” says Kelly.

“Ultimately the decisions are theirs. Through the SRP programme we are giving these men the tools to do things differently in their lives, to make and sustain change and therefore get a better, happier outcome.

“They know they need to make change in their lives and we as a community need it too. Their change has such a massive impact, not only on their personal lives, but also on the lives of their families, and ultimately on the entire community.”

Greymouth Mayor Tony Kokshoorn will be attending the graduation on the 2 March 2017 to support and acknowledge the participants’ successful programme completion.