Corrections News Nov-Dec 2012
Chief Executive's comment
Each year we work with over 77,000 individuals, the majority of whom are serving sentences in the community. Their lives have taken many twists and turns before ending up at Corrections’ doorstep. Every one of the 77,000 people we manage has travelled a different and at times difficult road to get here.
For me, understanding that everyone is unique,
that they have their own story, their own dreams and their own issues is fundamental to helping that individual turn their life around.
I was at a recent roadshow with our people in Auckland and the theme of the day’s events was all about the journey that each offender takes. It was very fitting because Corrections is moving to a new way of operating that puts the offender at the centre of what we do and focuses on making the journey each offender takes through our system more targeted to their needs, more seamless and more focused on reducing the likelihood that they will re-offend.
For my staff, this means everyone working together to achieve the best possible outcome for an individual. Programmes like Right
Track (see story page 6) are introducing active management into our daily interactions with offenders. This involves making every contact we have count.
We’re also working far more closely with the Courts, Police, Work and Income, community groups and agencies to help make transitions
in and out of Corrections more seamless too.
For the offender, we’ve put more emphasis on addressing any underlying health issues, for example drug or alcohol dependence. Then we target their rehabilitation through interventions like our special treatment units. We’re doing more to ensure people learn skills that will help them cope better with the pressures of ordinary life and gain experience in sought-after trades that will lead to them getting a job.
For the public, we’re aiming at having people leave our services with a better chance of leading a crime-free life and being a contributing member of the community.
In October we released both our Annual Report 2011-2012, which looks at our performance over the last year, and our Creating Lasting Change Strategy, which outlines what we will do over the coming year. When viewed together, one looking back and one looking forward, these documents make it clear that Corrections’ is on the ‘right track’ to transform the way we deliver our services in New Zealand and change lives.
Listening to Pacific communities
Improving responsiveness to Pacific communities in the Waikato is a goal shared by local and central government agencies in Hamilton.
Representatives from Corrections, Department of Internal Affairs, Hamilton City Council, Ministry of Social Development and Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs form the Waikato Pacific Interagency Forum (WPIF) and met in August at the inaugural ‘Pacific listening fono’ for the Pacific community. Also present were Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker, and the first Cook Island Member of Parliament Alfred Ngaro, as well as other MPs. Forum members will analyse feedback from the workshop and identify a lead agency to progress initiatives.
Cactus - a prickly exterior but soft on the inside
CACTUS is a Police-run programme of physical training designed to extend a young person’s mind and physical capability. Senior Probation Officer Mark Cookson was asked to be involved as an Instructor thanks to his liaison work with Police in Levin and his military background which means he is familiar with physical training.
Mark has just completed a programme for 25 students from Levin aged 15 – 17 years. The participants were not Corrections’ offenders “and we don’t want them to be,” says Mark. They were volunteers on the programme which is open to anyone to participate.
“Some of their attitudes needed working on and others were exemplary students; there was a real mix,” says Mark.
The programme includes career education, motivational speakers and mentoring with a view to having youth actualise their potential. It aims to assist youth to set goals, instil discipline and self-esteem and encourages them to look and listen before they act.
The programme runs for eight weeks, with three one hour training sessions per week of progressively harder physical routines. Mark says after the morning’s physical training, which starts at 5:30am, the participants share breakfast together as part of the programme. CACTUS promotes healthy eating and healthy living.
To help strengthen the bond with their parents, CACTUS has a ‘bring a parent day’ where a parent comes along to a session and works out with their teenager.
The name of the programme, CACTUS, represents youth, who are similar to a cactus plant in that they can have a prickly exterior, and can be difficult to handle.
But no matter how prickly the exterior, the inside needs nurturing and care to grow to its fullest potential.
“The gain for us at Corrections is the collaboration with different government agencies,” says Mark. The programme is run by the
Levin Police and also involves Community Probation, Life to the Max staff, Fire Service, and NZ Army from Linton.
While the participants are not offenders, some of them have brothers or sisters who are. “When they realised I was the Probation Officer who manages their sentences I got comments like ‘Oh, you do the ‘bling’! (electronic anklets).’ It was good for them to put a face to my name,” says Mark.
To celebrate the completion of the programme the CACTUS crew, participants and their families attended a dinner at the Horowhenua District Council along with MP Nathan Guy, the Mayor of Levin, Palmerston North’s Chief Police Officer and other sponsors of the programme.
Exercise Shake Out
The nationally coordinated earthquake emergency drill was conducted by over 5,000 Corrections staff, volunteers, visitors and offenders at community probation sites in late September. Most prison sites organised some form of drill, with a few also taking the opportunity to conduct a full exercise and undertake emergency operation centre training.
Hawke’s Bay Prison activated a full emergency drill. At 9.23am a ‘Code Blue’ emergency exercise call was activated by the Master Control Room to the site of 99 staff and 563 prisoners. At 9.26am the Incident Controller then gave an instruction to the site from the Emergency Operation Centre to “drop, cover and hold and remain in place until the next radio announcement in one minute.”
The prison then went into a ‘Code Red’ emergency drill which is a full lock-down of the prison. Acting Security Manager Marie McCollum was satisfied with the drill. “We debriefed to ascertain what went well and what didn’t – it was a highly useful exercise for everyone at our site,” she said.
Perhaps similar to most desk-based workplaces was the need to clear clutter from under desks and prepare a ‘go bag’ (or personal emergency kit). Staff now have a hightened awareness of their surroundings, and many have located Civil Defence Cabinets and familiarised themselves with its contents.
Most staff welcomed the opportunity to participate in the exercise, says Risk and Assurance Advisor Leigh Marsh. “It was a hugely useful exercise, and one which many staff would appreciate participating in on an annual basis,” he says.
The Joining Forces programme, established in November 2011 by the Commissioner of Police and Chief Executive of Corrections, has quickly identified areas where Police, Corrections and the Ministry of Justice (Courts) could work together more efficiently – and implemented some early improvements.
Programme Director Kelley Reeve says many of the areas for improvement have been evident to frontline staff but the obstacles to fixing some of these problems need a ‘big picture’ overhaul.
Prison escorts and AVL
Police and Corrections are combining their efforts at Waikeria Prison and Hamilton Courts via Audio Visual Link (AVL). This means prisoners can ‘attend’ court hearings via AVL rather than having to be escorted from prison to the court in Hamilton.
“Maximising AVL reduces the number of prisoners being escorted to Hamilton District Court by Police and Corrections staff. It’s pleasing to see the average number being escorted to Hamilton Courts has dropped from 16 a day to about eight,” says Kelley.
AVL use also reduces the staff time taken to process newly arrived prisoners in receiving offices. Police have been able to redeploy some frontline staff to preventing crime initiatives and Judges and court officials are finding efficiencies in this new way of working.
“Waikeria Prison management have been working closely with Police and have come to an arrangement that Corrections staff will escort prisoners to Hamilton court in the morning thereby freeing up Police for more frontline duties.”
Corrections and Police both invest resources in training staff and this is a work stream where efficiencies can be found. Corrections and Police have been sharing expertise in the emergency response area.
In September, Police from the Whanganui Negotiation Team supported Corrections negotiators in Levin. They played the role of prisoners while Corrections staff practised their negotiation skills.
Senior Corrections Officer Ann-Maree Butler also attended the Police College as the first Corrections staff member to take part in a Police-only negotiators training event. Ann-Maree is now a qualified prison negotiator having completed the Police version of this course.
In mid-October a new cohort of prison negotiators attended the Police College training course to join Ann-Maree, bringing the total to 30 qualified negotiators across Corrections.
Also in Levin in September, representatives of the Police College and Police National Head Quarters watched the advanced control and restraint teams go through their paces. Detective Inspector Lance Burdett and his colleagues were impressed by the professionalism of the training. The Corrections team thanked Lance with a spirited haka.
Joining Forces reports to a Steering Committee consisting of Deputy Chief Executive Christine Stevenson, Deputy Police Commissioner Mike Bush and Justice Deputy Chief Executive John Ryan. Major decisions will be taken by July 2013, followed by implementation planning until the end of the programme in December 2013.
The Joining Forces programme is made up of nine workstreams:
• Watch house and court custodial services
• Escorts and transport
• Court security
• Intelligence and information sharing
• Safe communities
• Combined training
• Emergency response management
• Electronic Bail
• Co-location of facilities.
Approved to prove
The bakery at Waikeria Prison has been approved to deliver NZQA training in Bakery, and since August 10 prisoners have successfully completed the National Certificate in Bakery Level 2.
Not only are they the first to complete this training, they are the only prisoners to have achieved this certificate. Waikeria Prison is the only prison in the country to have an accredited bakery.
Principal Instructor Robert Pepperell says the course is run through Skills4Work which offers industry training linked to qualifications. “They have come out to audit us and were impressed with what they saw,” says Robert.
Robert says the course is a mix of practical and theory. The students learn how to measure ingredients, how to use a prover and how to bake. They learn the yeast and fermentation process as well as problem solving skills; what to do if a product has risen too early or there’s too much yeast.
The prison kitchen emits mouth-watering odours of all types of bread; white, wholemeal, cheese bread, French sticks. And there are no bread-maker machines to ensure a perfect result!
No short-cuts are taken when they make pies; making the pastry is all part of the process.
“We take a photo of the finished product and they do get to quality test the product which is a distinct perk of the job!”
Bakery Instructor Wayne MacCarthy says how pleased he is that the students have thrown themselves into the concept of working towards a certificate. “They are so proud. For many it’s the first certificate they’ve had. It was very exciting presenting them with their certificates,” says Wayne.
The qualification would gain them an entry-level position in a supermarket bakery or a small bakery. “But even if they don’t go into the bakery industry, when they go home they’ll be able to make bread and pastry and some delicious things for their families.”
Right Track, putting offenders at the centre of our work
Corrections is taking a more active management approach with offenders to support the strategic direction of reducing re-offending rates by 25 percent. In this approach, called ‘Right Track’, staff support offenders in their daily interactions so that they can make progress with their offender plans.
Corrections is taking a more active management approach with offenders to support the strategic direction of reducing re-offending rates by 25 percent. In this approach, called ‘Right Track’, staff support offenders in their daily interactions so that they can make progress with their offender plans.
Research into best practice for offender-centric service delivery has highlighted three equally important components – security, care and rehabilitation. It also recognises the need to apply these components differently depending on an offender’s needs, risks and circumstances using the ‘right’ relationship.
A six month pilot at Auckland Prison involved training all staff who come into contact with prisoners (ie corrections officers, offender employment, heath and case management staff) in the stages of motivational change, and understanding how to apply change tactics for offenders at each stage. It also involved coaching and sharing information about offenders, as well as identifying any barriers and solutions at regular meetings.
“We saw great results from the pilot,” says Right Track Project Manager Lisa Young. “Feedback from staff is that the structured discussions of individual prisoners gives them an opportunity to explore and share ideas about prisoners and set tangible goals.
An external evaluation team noted that there is greater fairness, transparency and shared ownership in our practice as we adopt a structured and collaborative approach to addressing the individual needs of all prisoners.
With the Right Track framework we’re providing structure and support in a Corrections Officer’s daily interaction with offenders, ensuring offenders participate in the plans available to them and that actions are focused on reducing re-offending.
Project sponsor Eric Fairbairn says that Right Track is about supporting staff to take the right action with offenders at the right time, by knowing what is going on in their lives and encouraging them to make positive use of their time in custody.
In September the Right Track team were acknowledged for their hard work. The team picked up a Gold Make a Difference Award, one of the highest level of recognition at Corrections. The pilot at Auckland Prison was completed in November and nationwide roll-out of the new approach has begun.
Manukau Family Violence Team - more than managing sentences
Placing offenders at the centre of our efforts means more than just managing an offender’s sentence. For the Family Violence Team in Manukau this means looking at the offender and his family.
Today’s probation officers know that what works for one offender does not always work for another and the approach they take is ‘what will work with this offender.’
The Manukau Family Violence Team was established in July 2012 to enhance inter-agency collaboration and promote best practice for working with family violence cases.
The team works closely with Police family violence teams. The dual approach of home visits with non-uniform Police creates a productive working alliance and better information sharing. The team also works closely with other community and statutory agencies within the Counties Manukau Area.
In one case, a young offender, ‘John’ and his partner, both under the age of 20 with a two year old child, were effectively squatting in a home. Although they had been paying the rent, they had no rights, could not seek redress with either the rental agency or owner for problems in the home, received no credit for the improvements they had made and were potentially one visit by the rental agency away from being homeless.
“It was unsettling to be living in this manner and they wanted to have their occupancy formalised but didn’t know how to go about it,” says Probation Officer Craig Coulter.
They were intimidated about meeting with the rental agency, knowing they were young and vulnerable and could simply be asked to vacate the property. They feared being asked to start a new agreement at a higher rent.
Craig accompanied the couple to a meeting with the rental agency and the absentee tenant. Together they explained the situation, how they had cleaned up the property and paid rent. The previous tenant who, as it turned out, had been problematic for the agency, paid the arrears with his bond, and signed out. The rental agency was prepared to transfer the lease on the basis of what was presented.
However, Craig says another problem needed addressing. Since opening a bank account, John had lost his eftpos card and the bank would not issue him a new card without photo ID, which he did not have. Craig again accompanied them to a meeting with the bank manager who was adamant he had never issued an eftpos card without photo ID in his career. Craig persisted and eventually this was arranged, meaning John could now access funds.
Next stop was Work and Income and with the letter from the rental agency and the bank account number, assistance was approved. So, within the space of several hours, they had gone from anxious squatters to proud legal tenants of their first home.
“They were extremely appreciative of the assistance they received as well as a valuable lesson on how to respectfully deal with official agencies,” says Craig. As a consequence, John’s level of risk was re-assessed down, the couple has attended programmes, both court directed and voluntary, and continues to make progress in accumulating life skills that will hold them in good stead for their young family’s future.
Child sex offenders in the community
If a child sex offender has completed his full sentence he has to be released from prison just like any other offender.
Where feasible, an offender will be released to the area he is from and where he will have community and family support. However, many offenders have no support, so they are released to places where there are reintegrative agencies or supported accommodation.
“As a general rule, we try to house child sex offenders (CSOs) away from schools, parks, playgrounds or other high risk areas and where there are known victims,” says Corrections Services Senior Adviser Matt Gibbs.
“The reality is that there are very few places which are far away from either a school, park or playground. Therefore, we have to seek the most suitable accommodation for each offender.”
Each offender’s placement in the community is considered case-by-case, taking into account various factors; their likelihood of re-offending and risk of harm to others, their way of offending, likely future victims and what protective factors are in place.
“We do a thorough risk assessment and liaise with other agencies such as Police and Child Youth and Family. Ongoing information sharing among Corrections and specific agencies continues throughout the sentence or order, to ensure that risk issues are being monitored and managed.”
Matt says the success of an offender’s transition into the community depends largely on a reintegration plan that has close oversight by Police and Probation. The Victim Notification Register (VNR) is a database that links offenders to registered victims. If an offender is subject to the VNR, Corrections Services assesses any proposed address for proximity to victims and the offender will not be approved to reside close to a victim.
Matt says notification to a local community or immediate neighbours is considered on a case-by-case basis. If specific potential risks are identified, Corrections Services and Police may contact neighbours to advise a CSO is living in the area and to offer advice on how to keep themselves safe, taking into account the principles of the Privacy Act.
Where any community concerns about a CSO are raised with the Department, we will meet with the community and work with them to address these concerns. “For the most part people are happy when they feel informed by the Department and better understand how they can keep children safe in their community.”
It’s not a case of finding somewhere for an offender to live and leaving him to get on with it. Community Probation continuously assesses the suitability of the house with regular home visits, checks on other occupants and around the neighbourhood, and ongoing information sharing with Police and other agencies.
Corrections has recently begun monitoring some of the highest risk CSOs on extended supervision orders, via GPS. The offender wears an electronically monitored device on his ankle and his movement in the community is actively monitored and assessed for potential risk.
“If the offender moves into an exclusion zone or leaves home during a curfew time, the monitoring company receives an alert and will immediately respond.”
Probation makes a recommendation to the New Zealand Parole Board for GPS monitoring in cases where it is considered it would help mitigate an offender’s risk. The New Zealand Parole Board will make the final decision on whether this type of additional monitoring is required.
There are information sheets available about how Corrections manages high-risk offenders in the community.
In our July/August issue of Corrections News we reported on a 29 percent reduction in child sex offending recidivism for men who had completed the Kia Marama Special Treatment Unit programme (from 10 percent down to 7.2 percent). Such were the results of a research study by Lucy Moore, a Canterbury University Masters student.
In the background, and augmenting this research is a long-term piece of work to ascertain what else, apart from the treatment taking place within Special Treatment Units, is driving the significant decrease of the base rate* for child sex offending? Is extended supervision (providing behavioural monitoring by Community Probation staff) and the increased use of indefinite sentences for the highest risk offenders to be most credited for this reduction?
Only time will tell, but Principal Advisor for Special Treatment Unit Practice Bronwyn Rutherford, who is project managing this research, says that the falling base rate is very exciting, as it indicates that the Department’s multiple approaches to reducing re-offending are working to increase public safety.
“We’re encouraged by these research results, and not just because it tells us that our high intensity treatments continue to be very effective,” says Bronwyn. “It also demonstrates that we have ways of continuing to be able to do follow-up evaluations for treated sex offenders in comparison with untreated offenders, in spite of the decreasing base rate making this more difficult to do.”
Further, this research which is mainly being undertaken by University of Canterbury students under the supervision of the University’s Professor Grace and Dr McLean, will assist the Department in the future in developing methods to better analyse what treatment reductions in re-offending in general can be attributed to, thereby increasing our ability to make further improvements.
*The base rate is the rate of re-offending each year for all child sex offenders, both treated and untreated, and has dropped by over 50 percent, from about 20 percent in the 1980s to currently less than 10 percent.
Offenders no match for alert probation staff
An alert Dunedin probation officer, reading an article on Stuff about an assault of women on a walking track, recognised the offender’s profile.
She notified Police and questioned the offender when he reported in to the Service Centre. The offender confessed that he was the person involved in the incident and was taken to the Police Station, where he was subsequently held in custody. Detective Senior Sergeant Kallum Croudis says the probation officer’s help was outstanding. “Until Probation contacted me, we had little to go on.
It was a random attack with no forensics. The probation officer is obviously a very good judge of character in relation to this offender.”
In another incident highlighting the benefits of inter-agency information sharing, a life parolee was subject to an interim recall order when information shared at a meeting with Child Youth and Family and Police led to him.
“The information led to the discovery that he was giving false details to Police attending family violence call-outs and living in circumstances unbeknown to us,” says Probation Senior Practioner Fiona Bidois.
An Innovation Fund is providing opportunities for additional interventions for offenders in prison and the community through a contestable fund for new interventions to be provided by iwi and community groups.
The Department has committed to reducing re-offending by 25 percent by 2017, and supporting proposals by staff, iwi and community providers for new interventions are one way to support this goal.
Quality interventions will be purchased by the Department and will be expected to make a positive contribution to our overarching goal of reducing re-offending.
The Department has set aside $900,000 ($600,000 community and $300,000 prisons) for the 2012/2013 year to provide the initial funding for new innovative programmes. Through these programmes we expect a gradual decrease in re-offending rates in both the community and prisons over the next five years, culminating in 182 less reconvictions for prison and community offenders by 2016/2017.
The Department has now run two funding rounds for the 2012/13 financial year, and has selected 27 initiatives for funding.
“We’re really pleased that the 2012/13 Innovation Fund has resulted in a number of exciting innovations being selected throughout the four regions,” says National Manager Rehabilitation Interventions Support, Mark Hutton.
Over 1,000 offenders will benefit from these initiatives.
The selected programmes included work related services which will enable offenders to find and keep paid employment, such as the Pathways programme run by the Pathway Charitable Group.
Pathways comprises several services which support men moving from prison back to the community to find and keep paid employment. This is an innovative initiative as it focuses on supporting offenders’ own efforts to find, apply for and sustain suitable employment, rather than the Department’s traditional educational and vocational skills-based programmes.
The Department has also invested in innovative programmes which equip offenders with the pro-social skills necessary to develop positive relationships with their partners and children.
These include the Conscious Parenting Programme run by Stopping Violence Dunedin and Barnardos, for community offenders. The Conscious Parenting Programme seeks to enhance the offender’s relationship with their children. The programme aims to build parenting/fathering skills of young men who have had domestic violence issues. The expected outcomes from the programme include:
• Improved relationships between perpetrators of domestic violence and their children.• Better outcomes for the child’s wellbeing and less likelihood of violence
• Increased buy-in and recognition by the perpetrator of the need to change their negative behaviours.
• Building a positive peer mentoring group for the parenting programme members.
Negotiations for delivery are underway with providers, and Mark expects several of the initiatives to be up and running before Christmas.
One staff assault is too many. It’s as simple as that. The safety of Corrections staff is of utmost importance.
And given the people that prison officers and probation staff have to work with every single day, there is no doubt that danger
and the risk of violent situations is never far away.
Assaults are rare, especially as staff have thousands of offenders to deal with. However, in recent months, there have been a few such cases. As always, this is concerning.
The Corrections Department investigates each case of assault on staff members to try and find out why it happened, and to determine a course of action to avoid a similar event taking place again.
What doesn’t help is that certain people use each incident to try and push their own political viewpoint in the media. Being economical with the facts to suit a particular agenda is not a good look. In fact, I think this shows a huge lack of respect for staff.
Take the call for pepper spray on the belts of prison officers, which is wheeled out each and every time there is any kind of staff assault. In many incidents this would increase, not lessen, the risk to staff. If a prison officer is surprised with a random punch, pepper spray on their belt is often no use whatsoever. An offender could steal the spray and use it on the staff member, or officers trying to help, and on other prisoners.
What we believe is of much more use is having the option of pepper spray for tactical use. That’s why it is being made available in all prisons from November, alongside staff training. This kind of approach was trialled in a few prisons last year and was found to be an effective deterrent.
As well as rolling out the pepper spray to all prisons we have also simplified the over-complicated permissions required, and lowered the threshold for its use, so it is no longer a last resort.
And I can assure you that we will continue to look at all possible ways to increase safety for staff.
As a part of this, an Expert Advisory Panel on staff safety has recently been formed to consider all these issues and help us achieve a safer work environment for all.
I encourage everyone to give feedback to the panel and to have their say in what is an extremely important issue for all Corrections staff.
Hon Anne Tolley
Minister of Corrections
Waiheke community work in full swing
Waiheke Island’s Piritahi Marae is undergoing a spruce-up, thanks to the attendance of a community work team a few days a month.
The work involves rejuvenating the gardens, clearing and cleaning a creek which runs through the marae, cutting back flax bushes covering the equivalent of half a rugby field, mowing grass, cleaning the building exteriors, spreading 60 square metres of mulch, and general upkeep. Whilst clearing the creek, the workers uncovered a huge retaining wall covered in overgrowth. The wall is now exposed and is a new feature on the site.
In the past, due to the island’s remoteness and communication issues with offenders, distance, time and travel expenses, all Waiheke community work offenders were assigned to agencies, which were sometimes unable to devote the time and energy required to ensure sentence completion.
However, Onehunga Service Manager Gabriel has initiated and executed a major turnaround, meaning offenders are all directly managed by Corrections. The Department has invested in sending a Community Work Supervisor to Waiheke twice a week to ensure reporting rates are upheld. Results speak for themselves: over the last three months, attendance and sentence compliance has increased from four percent to over 60 percent. There’s clearly still plenty more work to do, but progress is steady. An increased inter-agency approach – working more closely with Police and Work and Income – means there’s also a whole change of thinking. “I’ve set expectations way higher than they had been, and now we’re all reaping the benefits,” says Gabriel.
Community Work Supervisor Mack MacKenzie says the offenders love working at the marae. “It’s their marae and they take plenty of pride in the work,” he says.
Piritahi Marae Kaitiaki Judy Davis says the new regime has been working very effectively, especially with offenders being picked up from two points on the island and dropped off at the designated worksite. “The marae staff and the Waiheke community who utilise the marae very much appreciate the effort and work being done here,” says Judy.
Kia maraetia e te iwi. Bring all the people under the kaupapa of helping one another.
Youth Offender Programme
A new programme, which began at the end of October in Manukau, run in conjunction with the Manukau Urban Maori Authority (MUMA) is the first of its kind, targeting offenders under the age of 20.
The programme is part of the Department’s expanded rehabilitation programmes for offenders, including young offenders, a group for whom there has not previously been any intensive rehabilitation available.
A pilot of the programme was run in Christchurch in 2011 and after adapting the content, the Manukau course is the product of the re-write. It is being delivered by a programme facilitator and a psychologist who will work with a maximum of eight community-based offenders for five months.
The young offenders are typically on sentences of home detention or intensive supervision and are assessed as medium risk of re-offending.
“What we know about young offenders is they are complex,” says Northern Region Manager Intervention Programmes Jennie Montague. “Not only are they coping with the complexities of being an offender but they are also coping with the complexities of being a young person.”
Jennie says the Christchurch pilot, and other research into what works with young people, highlighted the importance of ‘wrap-around activities’ that support the work being done on a programme. For example, educational activities, work-ready skills, tikanga and engaging in pro-social activities complement the programme.
MUMA has undertaken to provide a venue for the programme as well as a kaiarahi (guide) who will support the pro-social activities that are so necessary for the programme to be successful. The kaiarahi will also help establish close connections between the participants and pro-social supporters in their lives.
Jennie says the Department is working with the Auckland Chamber of Commerce and Ministry of Social Development to provide careers information to the participants as well as access into bridging courses to assist them back into tertiary education.
Several aspects of the programme distinguish it from the same type of course delivered to adults. The content is more visual and is half an hour shorter per day. This allows for the shorter attention span and generally higher physical energy of young people. A morning tea is provided before the session, as well as lunch afterwards to help them with establishing a healthy lifestyle balance and to promote whanaungatanga between the participants. It comprises lots of activities rather than group-based sessions and has a smaller class size (eight rather than the usual 10-11 for this type of programme). It has also been designed so that if a young person needs to drop out they can come back when their personal circumstances are less chaotic.
“Some young people have chaotic lives so we want them to be able to access the programme when they are able.”
The programme facilitators have received training so they have the skills to make sessions more dynamic and meet the specific needs of a younger population. They will facilitate more role-plays and out-of-seat activities to ensure sessions do not have a classroom feel and to enhance their learning of the skills covered in the programme.