From the General Manager's Office
Looking back at 2009 I am impressed how the volunteers have adapted to the many new challenges that we faced.
The economic and political environment has brought a steady stream of change as we, like other government agencies, strive to
deliver more for less.
The continuing growth in the prison muster has seen the reopening of Wellington Prison and the advancement of plans to extend double bunking at our four newest prisons from next year.
These changes require an adaptable and flexible approach. During the past year, you as volunteers have shown that, just like our staff, you are able to adapt well to this changing environment and meet new challenges head on.
I have been impressed with the willingness of volunteers to adapt to changing prison regimes, where this has been necessary. And when Wellington Prison reopened, volunteering activity resumed quickly with the minimum of fuss. This gives me good reason to feel optimistic about the year ahead, and I look forward to the continuation of the strong partnerships we enjoy with community and voluntary groups into 2010.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families a peaceful Christmas and a happy New Year.
General Manager Prison Services
Ceremonies were held across the country in early December to mark Corrections’ second annual Volunteer Recognition Awards. Timed to coincide with International Volunteer Day, these ceremonies have become a popular fixture, giving volunteers an opportunity to mix and mingle with Corrections managers and staff in a social setting.
In Wellington, award winners included the Maori Ministries team, Volunteer Librarian Patricia Morrison and volunteers from Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Former National Advisor Volunteers Russell Underwood reflected back on some positive progress in prison volunteering in the past year, including the launch of the new Handbook for Prison Volunteers and the training package.
In Auckland over 150 gathered at the spectacular Orakei Marae for awards, entertainment and kai. Regional Manager Warren Cummins paid tribute to the support of volunteers to prisoners and their whanau. Apart from the awards, spot prizes were given to the oldest and youngest volunteer and to the volunteer who had travelled the farthest on the night.
In Otago, at a ceremony attended by Prison Manager Jack Harrison, award winners included Volunteer Counsellor Paul Reet and the team from Riverside Chapel, Henley.
The team winner for the Canterbury prisons was the Salvation Army, whose members between them have notched up an incredible 129 years as prison volunteers.
At Hawkes Bay Regional Prison, Literacy Support Volunteer Judith Lambert took the individual award, while the team award went to the House of Breakthrough Church, represented by Edith Walsh.
Many congratulations to all this year’s winners!
Prisoners can learn how to change violent behaviour in an Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) Workshop. Participating in a basic AVP Workshop is an intensive learning experience that focuses on developing skills to resolve conflicts through a series of step-by-step processes.
In November, 17 prisoners from the Totara Unit at Rolleston Prison embarked on a journey of self discovery in a three day, 22 hour workshop. They worked in pairs, small groups, and as a whole group on interacting and building a sense of community and trust. They tackled themes such as cooperation, trust, conflict resolution, communication, community building and affirmation.
Down to the wonderful efforts of the three Volunteer Facilitators Cathie Peters, Eileen Dwyer and Elaine Dyer, the workshop was a success. Volunteer Coordinator Anya Whiting thoroughly enjoyed working with Cathie and her team. “It was great to work with AVP, they really reached out to the men they were working with and the changes in the men’s attitudes and thinking was obvious at their graduation”.
Follow up sessions have been scheduled for the participants from the Totara Unit and a second basic workshop is planned for Christchurch Men’s Prison in December.
Nukes in Waikeria Prison
A group of 10 prisoners of Te Ao Marama Maori Focus Unit at Waikeria Prison got the chance to take part in a ukelele workshop.
The Nukes (pictured above) ran the workshop. They were in the area as Dave Parker, Dave Thiele and Ben Collier had been performing at Te Awamutu’s Woolshed Theatre the night before.
The workshop was a resounding success, with the men learning the basic chords and performing tunes such as ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ and ‘These Boots Were Made For Walking’.
After the hour long workshop the band invited all the unit staff and prisoners to attend a performance in the visits room, where they sang and played their own material.
The performance was really entertaining and well received by all, with lots of laughs and clapping all the way through. The band was impressed with the staff and prisoners and said that they felt very welcome. They are looking forward to revisiting next time they are in Te Awamutu.
Corrections is pleased to introduce Daniel Anderson who has taken over responsibility for the volunteer portfolio based at National Office in Wellington.
Originally from Dunedin, Daniel has a good volunteering pedigree himself, having held voluntary positions with Manaaki Pihipihinga at Victoria University and with the Otago Softball Association. Daniel will report to former National Advisor Volunteers Russell Underwood, who is currently Acting Operational Policy Manager.
Many thanks to Diane Hallot who looked after this position for most of the past year. Diane has taken up a secondment with Community Probation.