NRCF staff at the regional engagement forum in Whangarei.Two young men, Michael and Magness, captivated a crowd of over 100 guests at a regional engagement forum in Whangarei. They recounted their respective journeys of “being stuck in the system” from a young age, to now being successfully employed, thanks to the support of Corrections.

Addressing representatives from local and regional businesses, community organisations, government agencies, service providers, employers and other groups, keynote speaker Minister of Corrections Kelvin Davis acknowledged the successful collaboration between Corrections and businesses through the Department’s ‘This Way For Work’ pilot programme.

“For many offenders, this will be the first time they’ve held down a proper job. We shouldn’t underestimate how much of a difference that makes – if someone is able to walk out the prison gates and straight into a job then they’re far less likely to offend again,” Kelvin Davis said.

One of the stands at the forum showcasing the programmes that help offenders make a fresh start in life.“That can be life-changing for them and their whānau, and it ultimately means our communities are much safer.”

In her address, National Commissioner Rachel Leota invited guests to participate in the conversation around reducing re-offending and come forward with ideas and initiatives.

“You are our most valuable asset in achieving the goals of reducing the prison population and reducing re-offending by, among other things, supporting offenders into stable employment.”

Other speakers included Rugby League legend and Founder of the Lowie Foundation, Graham Lowe, who delivers the ‘Kick for the Seagulls’ education and sport development programme in prisons, and  Outcomes Director at NorthTec Whangarei, Andrew McCillick.

Several stands were on display, showcasing the programmes that give offenders a second chance.