Next stage of offender employment programme
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and Corrections Minister Judith Collins have announced the launch of the second stage of a new $15.3 million initiative to help offenders prepare for, find and stay in employment and reduce reoffending.
The Salvation Army and Workwise will work with the offenders from ten weeks before until twelve months after their release to give them the support they need to develop the necessary skills to find and maintain a job, while also increasing support for employers to take on offenders.
200 prisoners each year for the next three years at Rolleston, Christchurch Men’s and Christchurch Women’s prisons will be provided with education and training, financial advice, health services and housing support.
“Supporting prisoners into employment allows them and their families to lead successful lives rather than returning to crime,” says Mrs Tolley.
“It also reduces the burden on the benefit system and on taxpayers. Eighty per cent of offenders are still on a benefit 12 months after they leave prison, so it makes sense to give them the help they need.”
Ms Collins says that the initiative is part of a wider programme of work by Corrections.
“Research shows that participation in education, training and employment can significantly reduce the risk of re-offending following release from prison, which is the prime goal of the department, resulting in safer communities and fewer victims of crime.
“Corrections is committed to increasing the level of literacy, education and employment training for prisoners and offenders and as a result, more people will have the skills and experience employers require,” says Ms Collins.
The first stage of the programme, delivered by Work and Income case managers and professionals, got under way last month at seven prisons – in Northland, Hawkes Bay, Manawatu, Rimutaka, Arohata, Auckland Men’s and Auckland Women’s prisons.
The offender employment scheme is part of a $111.5 million package announced in Budget 2016 to support more New Zealanders to get off benefits and gain sustainable employment.