CorrVolunteer March 2011
From the General Manager's Office
Welcome to the latest issue of CorrVolunteer
As I write this message our thoughts and sympathies go to those people who have been affected by the earthquake in Christchurch. It is at a time like this that we get to see firsthand how important volunteers are in our society as a whole.
I would like to thank the prison volunteers in Christchurch, who contacted us shortly after the quake and offered to help out even though they must have had enough to cope with themselves. And while I write this, only a week after the disaster, many of the volunteer activities have resumed in the Christchurch prisons.
Nationwide we are very pleased to have so many volunteers who chose to work with prisoners, guiding them to an offence-free lifestyle. We realise that you put much time and effort into this and we value this enormously.
In this issue of CorrVolunteer you can read about a few changes happening within Corrections that will impact on you. These changes include the introduction of swipe card entry into prisons, the upcoming smoke-free environment within prisons from 1 July, and Serco becoming our partner in managing Mt Eden Corrections Facility. These are all exciting changes, which will improve our prison environment and security.
Thank you for all your efforts and we continue to look forward to working with you. Easter is nearly upon us so I wish you and your family a happy Easter.
Alison Thom, General Manager, Rehabilitation and Reintegration Services
Farewell David Major
On Thursday 17 February David Major was farewelled as National Director of the New Zealand Prison Chaplaincy Service.
Initially David trained as a school teacher, before training as a Salvation Army Officer. Over 22 years he served as a New Zealand Officer both here and abroad in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Russia and Belarus. Upon his return to New Zealand David became Chief Executive of the National Party in 1996 and then a Wellington City Councilor.
David Major (right) with the the new National Director Reverend Maku Potae (middle) and Prison Services General Manager Harry Hawthorn.
Throughout this time David maintained a strong involvement in working with offenders. He is the Founding Chairman of the Auckland branch of Victim Support and has been a member of the New Zealand Parole Board.
David had a huge hand in promoting the benefits of prisoner art when the Prison Chaplaincy Service hosted the New Zealand section of the 2009 International Prisoner Art Contest at the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul.
The Prison Chaplaincy Service draws heavily on volunteers and is made up of a mixture of generous, compassionate and outgoing personalities from all walks of life. And David is certainly no exception.
Reverend Maku Potae is the new National Director of the New Zealand Prison Chaplaincy Service.
Pacific leaders play part in rehabilitation
Le’au Asenati Lole-Taylor is Regional Advisor Pacific Northern Region for Rehabilitation and Reintegration Services at the Department of Corrections. In the article below she talks about how she has started inviting Pacific community leaders into the prisons in her area.
Fautua Pasefika members (Pacific community leaders) play an important role in the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners. Talking to them in their own language and sharing life stories builds trust, which brings the community and prisoners closer together.
On Wednesday 9 February Fautua Pasefika visited Spring Hill Corrections Facility. Assistant Prison Manager John Kanawa welcomed them to the site. He acknowledged that it is great to get this support. Most prisoners embraced the opportunity to talk about community issues, family upbringing, cultural expectations, education failures and leadership pathways.
Cook Island Community Leader Mary Ama from Waitakere says: “We can give prisoners some hope that they can change their lives and discuss issues with them that they often cannot share with their own families.”
Fautua Pasefika members from the Manukau Ahmaddiya Muslim community did not condemn the prisoners for the mistakes they have made, rather made them see the positive side of life that is on offer if they turn their lives around. Muslim culture often sees prison as the most degrading status of anyone’s life, so this visit helped reassure there is hope to become part of the community again.
Samoan Lepaleiaulata Manu Tusani and his wife Esefaiga talked about the Samoan legends, the meaning of some Samoan names, words and salutations. Their talk motivated Samoan prisoners to start taking ownership for their own actions.
Reverand Ionatana Pouli Lefale and his wife Auomala assisted with the English speaking Pacific Island prisoners. According to Reverand Pouli Lefale “they wanted some reassurance from someone of their own culture that it’s not too late for them to change”.
The prison visits show that the Department of Corrections and the Pacific communities in the Northern Region are developing a great partnership. An increased number of Pacific leaders are stepping forward to volunteer their time and cultural expertise as Pacific advocates.
Le’au Asenati Lole-Taylor
Clearing the air
From 1 July prisoners will not be permitted to smoke anywhere on the prison premises. Staff and prison volunteers will only be allowed to smoke in designated smoking area(s).
Corrections wants to provide a safe and healthy workplace in prisons by becoming smoke-free. To succeed we also need support from our prison volunteers.
The Department has distributed posters, pamphlets and fact sheets to ensure everyone is aware of prisons becoming smoke-free. Health staff are giving advice about quitting and The Quit Group have trained 61 staff members to be Workplace Champions. They can answer your questions about quitting. You can also contact Quitline on 0800 778 778 if you would like support to quit smoking yourself.
From 1 July staff members and volunteers at prison sites will only be permitted to smoke in clearly marked designated smoking areas outside the secure perimeter of the prison. No one will be permitted to bring cigarettes, tobacco, matches and lighters inside the wire. These items must be left in lockers or in your vehicle.
Getting into prison
From May Corrections is introducing an electronic system for managing access into prisons for non-Departmental staff, including volunteers. You will be issued a Department of Corrections Photo ID Card with a barcode that will be scanned upon entry and exit of our prisons. The card will have your photo, first name only and the organisation that you represent.
To get your new ID card you will need us to take your photo, confirm your contact information, and ensure that your induction to the prison and Ministry of Justice criminal history check are both current. After these have all been confirmed your local volunteer coordinator will then issue you with your ID card. Your volunteer coordinator will be arranging all of this for you.
The ID card will grant you access to the prisons you are approved for and you will be required to take your card with you every time you go the prison: no ID card, no entry.
When you arrive at a prison site, your card will be swiped using a bar-code reader. The prison staff will verify that you are the one on the photo and that you are approved to access that prison at that time. In some cases, you may be prompted to give some extra information. For example, if you have registered to provide different services then you may be asked to confirm which services you are providing that visit. This is to assist Corrections with managing the many kinds of valuable services provided to prisons by our volunteers and authorised providers.
Corrections signs contract with Serco
The contract to manage Mt Eden Corrections Facility (MECF) between Corrections and Serco was signed on 1 February.
CE Ray Smith (left) and Serco Civil Government Managing Director Paul Mahoney shake hands after signing the contract.
Mt Eden Corrections Facility is the new name for the combined site of Mt Eden/ACRP. The name ‘Mt Eden’ reflects the history of the site. The term ‘corrections facility’ reflects the strong focus on improving outcomes for the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners.
While Serco manages MECF, Corrections shares knowledge, introduces innovation and makes service improvements. Serco is a large global company with operations all over the world.
It is anticipated that following a phased hand-over from the 31 March 2011, Serco will take full responsibility for the site by 1 August 2011. Serco is planning significant engagement with the community and stakeholders including volunteers. More information for those volunteers will be sent out by the Volunteer Coordinator.