From the General Manager's Office
Since the last issue of CorrVolunteer, much has changed for Corrections. I’ve been newly recruited as General Manager looking after developing Corrections services. Having only been in the role a week or two, I am wholeheartedly impressed with the quality and vast amount of support you provide to offenders.
You may have heard that Minister of Corrections, Hon Anne Tolley and Associate Minister Hon Dr Pita Sharples recently announced Corrections’ commitment to achieving a 25 percent reduction in re-offending by 2017. There is much to be done to achieve this, and I am sure that staff and volunteers alike will play a part to help make this a reality.
You might also be aware that Corrections is working to improve the overall standard of New Zealand’s prisons. This reconfiguration is due to the fact that some of our buildings are over 100 years old and take many thousands of dollars a year to maintain. Wellington Prison will close in November this year and New Plymouth prison is due to close in March 2013. Individual units at Arohata, Rolleston, Tongariro/Rangipo and Waikeria have or are due to close during the course of this year. Please take the opportunity to have a word with your Volunteer Coordinator if these changes directly affect you. We are very keen to continue our relationship.
Thank you for your time and energy. I look forward to working with you.
Kia Kaha Ake.
Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison reaps the benefits of experienced yoga tutor, Linda, who has been working with prisoners on a weekly basis for over a year. Linda approached the prison, having decided her 20 years of skill, knowledge and experience teaching yoga could be well utilised there.
Linda’s initial class with lower-security prisoners was held outside in the sunshine. It was well attended, with some of the men going on to practice yoga and maintain their interest, even after Linda stopped teaching in their unit. Linda currently takes weekly sessions for remand prisoners, with the men keenly embracing the opportunity.
Linda says yoga has transformed her life. “I have always felt that yoga would be a powerful tool that inmates could use to turn their lives around …. the men have responded with enthusiasm and respect towards me and the yoga teachings, recognising that yoga presents a unique opportunity to change their negative behaviour patterns. Knowing that yoga has the potential to support positive changes for these men, both in and beyond their term in prison, has made this vital opportunity one of my most challenging and rewarding teaching experiences.”
A warm welcome
We welcome two new Volunteer Coordinators to the team.
Ray Kennedy worked for the NZ Fire Service for forty years, which included some involvement in supporting and encouraging volunteers. Ray is married to Gwen and has two children and three grandchildren. He has actively volunteered in numerous community groups and is excited about improving community outcomes for Rimutaka-based prisoners.
Brett Drewitt is covering the South Island, based at Christchurch Men’s Prison. Brett recently moved back to New Zealand with his new Welsh wife, following a seven year stint in Cardiff. Brett has been working for a charity supporting homeless people; starting his time there as a volunteer himself.
Back in June in Hamilton, the Volunteer Excellence Awards were held, organised by Volunteering Waikato and sponsored by various local businesses.
Prison Care Ministries were nominated for the ‘group prize’, and from a dozen nominees, they received a special commendation, and were gifted with a framed certificate and gift basket for their efforts.
Established in 2004, Prison Care Ministries provide a vital service to the men released back into the wider Hamilton community. They run four houses, interview male prisoners throughout the country; then on release select men to live in these houses.
The next level of support is assistance in finding permanent housing, putting the men in touch with counsellors and support groups; anything that will ensure they don’t return to prison.
Recruiting more Fautua Pasefika in Whanganui
A Whanganui 'Pacific Golden Age' group monthly meeting was held in Whanganui recently, comprising Pacific Island community leaders. Regional Advisor Pacific, Sosefo Bourke was invited to attend the meeting, with the purpose of recruiting new Fautua Pasefika members and to meet Pacific people in the community.
The meeting was very successful in that three new Fautua Pasefika members were recruited, and five others were keen to visit the prison as a Church Group.
Thanks to a volunteer at Waikeria Prison’s Rata Unit who donated 2,000 daffodil bulbs over a year ago. Prisoners planted the bulbs in 2011 and recently 700 or so flowers were cut for the Cancer Society’s annual street appeal on 31 August. Over $300 was raised.
Showing our appreciation
A number of celebrations were held around the country following Volunteer Awareness Week on 17-23 June. We’ve selected a couple to share.
Northland Regional Corrections Facility held a volunteer appreciation morning tea to share wisdom and meet new people with similar passions. The team also took the opportunity to thank longstanding volunteers, John and Elizabeth, who are stepping down from active service.
Over 100 volunteers joined forces at Auckland Prison for a celebratory evening, also acknowledging the sacrifices each individual makes to be a volunteer. The local Tongan church treated the crowd to a number of traditional island dances, with a modern twist.
Spring Hill Corrections Facility and Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility shared a combined ‘recognition evening’. Speeches shared a similar message of building communities through volunteering and reducing internal barriers that may be restricting people from achieving our vision at Corrections. A number of volunteers and a couple of agencies received commendation for ‘outstanding work and commitment to our men and women’.
Thank you to all our wonderful volunteers. Keep up the great work!
We have been looking at ways to improve the Corrections prisoner property process so that prisoners are clear about what they can and can’t keep in prison, and how their property is managed.
One significant change to our current policy is that we will only be storing release clothes and court clothes (for the duration of court cases) for prisoners. We’ll be encouraging prisoners to give any valuables to family or friends for safe-keeping, although we can safely store these if necessary. The total volume of personal items a prisoner may have in their cell has to fit into a plastic container measuring 50×40×30cm.
“We manage a large volume of prisoner property, so we want to make sure that we have a prisoner property process that works well,” says Zane Paine, prisoner property project manager.
So, if prisoners are involved in an activity where they produce something that is in excess or is larger than what they can keep in prison then it is up to them to make sure that their item is sent off-site at the completion of an activity.
Prisons will gradually be phasing in these changes by March 2013. This will give prisoners time to go through their property and send any extras to friends or family. Prisons will also work with local charities to organise auctions if people wish.
Some interesting statistics
Now that APPE has been in place for nearly a year we are able to report some interesting statistics. We currently have 2304 approved volunteers of which 109 are Kaiwhakamana, 51 are Fautua Pasefika, 1377 are faith based volunteers and 734 are non faith based volunteers.
From 1 January to 31 August there have been 11,999 volunteer visits recorded in APPE, an average of 1,500 per month across all prisons.
Having this information available now means that we are able to measure and report volunteers’ contributions.