Waikeria’s Careerforce Apprenticeship participants with Workforce Lead Hikitia Lianne Kohere (far left) and Careerforce Apprenticeship Advisor Jillena Paekau (front).Waikeria Prison staff are making the most of a new pilot programme focussing on health and wellbeing.

Fifteen custodial staff have been selected to work towards the Level 4 New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing through the Careerforce Apprenticeship in Social and Community Services. The NZQA accredited qualification was developed by educational institution Careerforce in conjunction with the social services sector. The qualification has been adapted to support the vision of Hōkai Rangi.

“This isn’t a generic, off-the-shelf training package. Careerforce has worked with us to adapt their programme so it’s targeted and tailored to our needs,” says Hikitia – Waikeria Mental Health and Addiction Service Project Workforce Lead Lianne Kohere.

“Hōkai Rangi and mental health and addiction learning are embedded in the programme. Participants will learn about holistic models of health and wellbeing and ways to incorporate tikanga and kawa into their practice” Lianne says.

Over the next 18 months, participants will be supported by Careerforce Apprenticeship Advisor Jillena Paekau to complete 13 modules focussed on strengthening their resilience and how to enable the men in our care to build their own resilience to meet life’s challenges. Learning is self-directed and completed through an online platform, with practical assessments that will be observed and signed off by unit principal corrections officers and senior corrections officers.

“This programme is an opportunity for experienced staff to enhance the skills and knowledge they already have, and get these recognised with a formal qualification,” says Lianne.

Lianne is working closely with mana whenua - ahi kā and Waikato DHB to build and shape a workforce for Hikitia – the future regional mental health and addiction service which is due to open in 2023.

“Māwhitiwhiti (a woven workforce) consisting of Māori experts, specialist clinicians and practitioners, peer support workers and custodial staff will deliver the Mana Whenua - Ahi Kā Model of Care to the men.”

“Professional development programmes like this give our existing staff who may be interested in working in Hikitia an opportunity to develop and upskill.”