Community Works - December 2012
From the General Manager's Office
Kia ora koutou.
The challenge for Corrections of reducing re-offending by 25 percent by 2017 set by Minister Anne Tolley has become our goal. Everything our 8,000 staff do is working towards this reduction; in order to make our communities and our country safer. We’re working closely with Police, Child, Youth and Family, Justice and others to assist us in our quest.
Within Community Probation, we’re pleased to report that the liaison we have with our partner agencies and charities is the best it’s ever been. Offender reporting rates have tripled, and is credit to the improved communications we’re enjoying with the agencies, and their willingness to work so closely with us. We’re grateful for their help with this, and we’re taking steps to increase this result further.
Our community work centres will be closed from 23 December 2012 until 7 January 2013 inclusive (and may be longer in some regions). All offenders on sentences of community work over this period have been advised of these dates, and issued with updated instructions to report for 2013 where required.
If you think our community work offenders may be able to help your community by way of worthwhile projects, please let us know. You’ll find contact numbers in the blue pages of your phone book, under C for Corrections.
I wish you an enjoyable Christmas and break.
Cyclists unite in Rotorua
The Te Ara Ahi cycle track, with outstanding and dramatic vistas and challenging stone steps has recently opened in Rotorua.
Prime Minister John Key’s cycle trails project covers many parts of the country. In Rotorua a team of ten offenders have been kept busy four days a week for the last six months on a 1.5km stretch of the 74km track.
The work has involved nothing short of digging half a hill to make part of the cycle track. Dynamite was used initially to blast the rock, then it was down to picks and shovels to make ever more substantial progress. “Passers-by were amazed we did most of the work by hand,” says Community Work Supervisor Malcolm McHale. “Some people lived in Rotorua all their lives and never knew this beautiful place ever existed.” Drivers are elevated when crossing the bridge, so are unaware of the surroundings below.
Making tracks and clearing scrub is all in a day’s work for the offenders, who have been seen by Corrections’ staff over the weekend, proudly showing their wives and children the work they’ve been doing.
To their credit, the guys return to work after a break without being prompted.
Some offenders have specifically asked to come on this particular project, as graffiti removal or clearing gardens isn’t for them, says Malcolm. “These men like building something and being really creative; they seem to flourish on hard labour… one particular offender, a 19-year-old gang member, has been obstructive on all other jobs, but seems to thrive on this particular one, doing such hard labour. My colleagues can’t believe he’s currently my most outstanding worker!”
Rotorua District Council Project Manager for the cycleway Chris Haywood was delighted with the hard work undertaken by the offenders. “The care that’s been taken by the guys is just unbelievable… they’ve worked so hard and it’s just been fantastic,” says Chris.
Associate Minister for Tourism Chris Tremain opened the cycleway on 29 November with a good crowd in attendance, delighted with their new local facility.
“A lot of the guys are very positive and very proud of what they are achieving.” Community Work Supervisor Malcolm McHale.
Manurewa Marae rebuilds after fire
Fire destroyed the mattress storage room at the Manurewa Marae in late June, thankfully no-one was injured.
Three Community Work teams (36 offenders) were involved in the clean-up, with the work taking a fortnight to complete.
Workers removed the burnt out roof, walls, cupboards, mattresses, wooden floor and carpet before cleaning the place out, in preparation for builders and other trades people to make the necessary repairs.
Water had also damaged a number of other rooms, which also required attention.
Safety gear including masks and gloves were supplied by the marae; and axes, shovels, spades, crowbars, wheelbarrows and other tools were provided by Corrections.
Rubbish skips filled quite quickly, as over a hundred mattresses were destroyed by the fire; the cause was inconclusive.
In early September a blessing, short service and dinner was held at the marae to acknowledge the “tremendous amount of work and support from local community and agencies that went into rebuilding the damaged part of the marae.” Chairman of the marae Rangi McLean thanked the offenders for their efforts, saying the recovery effort would not have been possible without Corrections’ help. Mr McLean also gave special recognition to Service Manger Greg Wipani who co-ordinated the response.
Five offenders who had completed their hours, stayed on after their sentence completion to further assist the contractors, and continue their learning journey; proof that they genuinely cared about repairing their local marae. Other offenders have also just recently enrolled in classes there such as money management, supervisory management and horticulture classes – and have also registered with the medical centre.
“Some of the offenders have got really good skills and qualifications that they were able to share with the contractors, so we didn’t have to watch them the whole time.”
A sporting chance to make a difference
One of the club buildings at the Eastbourne Sports and Services Club has been refurbished by four Community Work offenders. Used on and off by the club for a number of years, the building had never been deep-cleaned or refurbished. The building interior was in complete disarray, so the men thoroughly cleaned and tidied before setting to work with their paintbrushes.
The building is used for croquet, indoor bowls and gym activities and was repainted for the first time in over 40 years. Two of the men completely refurbished the whole of the interior; while the other two men had a very different role to play. As qualified chefs, they provided nutritional advice and designed a menu specifically for the club.
The workers also maintain and clean the club’s indoor sports hall and the bar/club rooms on an ongoing basis.
Probation Officer Alan Wendt says the project was a good match for the offenders. “The men’s skills were well used for this particular project, and they’ve really made a difference at the club.” Conveniently, the offenders all lived locally, so were able to walk to the clubrooms.
Club Manager Graham Walsh is delighted with the job done, saying the work was even better than he had anticipated. “The guys were keen, very competent and very trustworthy ...the work done was excellent, first class.”
Graham estimates the value of the club buildings has risen by $8,000 as a result of the work.
Big beach clean-up
The Nelson/Tasman district recently held their third big beach clean-up, involving two Community Work teams and approximately 550 other members of the public.
On Saturday 10 November from 10am and 3pm, members of the community who don’t flinch at getting their hands dirty got stuck-in, and lifted over 5.5 tonnes of litter.
Fifty beaches stretching over 300 km from Marahau to Cable Bay were included in the clean-up. Individuals and community groups were asked to identify, then choose whether they wanted to tackle an easy, medium or hard section of coast on the Department of Conservation website, where maps of each section were also provided. The ‘hard’ stretches are those where a high level of fitness is required, or where access may only be by water.
Department of Conservation Ranger and Co-ordinator Janice Gravett organised the event for the third successive year. She says the volume of rubbish is reducing as a result of the event being an annual one. “In the first year people brought in huge things, including a car body, so we expected that litter levels would drop, which is great to see. People are also slowly getting the message that littering isn’t ok.”
The initiative, a partnership between the Department of Conservation, Nelson City Council, Tasman District Council and also Nelmac, who supply the compactors and dispose of the rubbish; has become a fixture in people’s environmental calendars towards the end of each year. Advertising was widespread, with Fresh FM, Tasman District ‘What’s on’ and two local newspapers actively supporting the event.
Offenders have been involved each year, and for 2012 they were designated an area on Rabbit Island. The beach was relatively clean, but then at the northern (usually locked) end they found a huge amount of rubbish dumped some years ago. Community Work supervisor Kit Maling said the offenders removed over 420 kilos of rubbish. “The plastic was breaking down, proof that the rubbish had been there for a number of years,” says Kit. He reported that the offenders had a really positive attitude to cleaning up the litter, and they had a very full day.
Cooking up a storm
Learning to cook is one of the many ways community work offenders can usefully work through their hours. Other skills courses available include driving, parenting, budgeting, literacy, numeracy, Tikanga programmes and alcohol, drug and gambling education.
Section 66A of the Sentencing Act provides that a Judge may direct that up to 20 percent of the offender’s community work hours be translated into Basic Work and Living Skills (BWLS) training.
The Whangarei community work centre team began their second cooking course in October. Probation Officer Jo Green runs the courses, and on her way to class, picks up the local supermarket flyers to check what’s on special for the week to discuss with the group.
Discussion about healthy eating, learning to read nutritional labels, discussion around budgeting and menu planning with the use of supermarket flyers are vital first steps of the course. Then down to business, with participants observing, preparing and cooking a meal.
Jo says the recent class found that frozen whole chickens were on special at Countdown. They defrosted then used the chicken in various dishes, including macaroni cheese with chicken and bacon. A number of skills were learnt, including how to bone a chicken, make chicken stock and how to make white sauce. “By checking what’s on special first, they can be assured they can afford the meal,” says Jo.
A community work team had been working locally and returned to the service centre for a tasty, nutritious lunch.
The course runs for 2.5 hours a week over three weeks. Four to six offenders at a time attend, which allows for careful health and safety monitoring, and also ensures everyone has a go.
To be eligible for this training, the offender must:
• Have 80 hours or more of Community Work
Cleaning up Christchurch
A Graffiti Forum is up and running in Christchurch with the Christchurch City Council, Police, Corrections, NZ Rail, Keep New Zealand Beautiful, the Safer Christchurch Committee, utility companies and many other organisations all working closely together to eradicate the unsightly vandalism.
Since the earthquake, the graffiti issue has worsened, so earlier this year the Community Probation graffiti project was relaunched. Four Christchurch community centres are involved, with each working a day a week in different parts of the city to paint the sites.
Photos of the graffiti are taken and details are collated including particulars about the site, what area needs covering and the paint colour required. Any specific issues about the work are added to a database and sent to the City Council’s Crime Prevention team. The Council adds any information they may have about any of the (currently 30) sites, before analysing the data and liaising with Police to prosecute an offender.
The photographic evidence of the ‘tagging’ allows Christchurch City Council and the Police to effectively track then prosecute an offender when caught. There is also an attempt to filter those particular offenders onto a graffiti work team, to allow them the opportunity to pay back to the community in a meaningful fashion. The offenders are made aware that Corrections is working very closely with Police to eradicate the issue.
The donated recycled dark grey paint is provided by the Council. Research via psychologists has identified that most graffiti offenders don’t make their mark on dark colours, so it serves as a deterrent to further graffiti. Permission is sought to paint each site and the entire wall is painted, rather than just a line of paint covering the offensive tag.
Christchurch residents will soon start to notice notorious graffiti sites decreasing. Service Manager Lesley Bell says that offenders are getting a good reputation for being compliant and good workers. “They’re also getting the message that graffiti isn’t cool, and it’s been messing up our town,” she says.
|“There’s a very clear link between a higher crime rate and higher incidence of graffiti, so our work with Police is proving to be hugely important.”
Lesley Bell, Service Manager.