A programme is being piloted in South Auckland to help 450 young offenders gain a full driver licence, improving road safety and reducing offending.
“Gaining a driver licence can help young people turn their lives around, get jobs and move away from crime. People in gainful employment are less likely to reoffend,” Corrections Minister Louise Upston says.
The two-year pilot is aimed at Maori offenders aged 17-24 in the community and in prison. Maori have a high proportion of convictions for licence/regulatory offences.
The pilot programme will be delivered at Auckland Prison, Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility, and at six Community Corrections sites in South Auckland. South Auckland has the highest number of driver-related infringements for youth in the country.
“Young people who appear in court on a traffic offence have very high reoffending rates,” says Ms Upston.
The Justice Sector Fund approved $606,000 for the pilot. It will cover driving lessons, the cost of birth certificates if required, mock practical tests and all licence test fees.
An instructor will deliver the pilot at the two prisons and an external provider will work with those on community-based sentences. Tuition will include literacy and numeracy support if required, alcohol and other drug education and safer driving messages.
Corrections Minister Louise Upston today opened a new residential facility at Christchurch Men’s Prison that will accommodate high-risk sexual or violent offenders subject to Public Protection Orders.
“The Matawhāiti Residence is designed to balance public safety with the appropriate management and rehabilitation of its residents. It is intended to better protect the community, rather than act as a punishment for the residents,” Ms Upston says.
A Public Protection Order (PPO) is a court order that allows the detention of very high-risk individuals at a secure facility within prison precincts. These civil detention orders may be put in place for individuals who have served a finite prison sentence but still pose a very high risk of imminent and serious sexual or violent offending and cannot be safely managed in the community.
“Residents are on a civil detention order and are not prisoners. While they have completed their term of imprisonment, psychologists and the courts have determined that a small number of individuals still pose a risk of reoffending.
“The facility allows residents as much autonomy and quality of life as possible while ensuring their safety and the orderly running of the facility. Residents also have personalised management programmes with goals that will contribute towards their eventual release,” Ms Upston says.
Matawhāiti is a secure facility. Residents will be accommodated in blocks of two self-contained units. Two blocks have so far been built, offering six residential units. One has been designed to accommodate a person with physical disabilities. Provision has been made for a further six blocks and, once completed, will accommodate up to 24 residents.
Offenders spent more than 90,000 hours last year learning work and living skills aimed at positive change in their lives and reducing the likelihood they will reoffend, Corrections Minister Louise Upston says.
Work and Living Skills (WLS) is part of community work sentences in which eligible offenders sentenced to more than 80 hours of community work may be able to convert up to 20 per cent of their hours into work and skills training.
Last year offenders completed 90,759 hours of WLS, up from 72,160 hours in 2015. The number of offenders completing WLS has also increased from 7278 in 2015 to 12,694 in 2016.
Community Corrections sites offer WLS activities including road safety, driver licensing, cooking, health and wellbeing, education, parenting, budgeting and work skills to increase employment opportunities.
“WLS helps offenders learn skills they may not have had the chance to learn previously. This can increase their chances of getting jobs and be a key motivator for them to make positive life changes and reduce the likelihood of reoffending,” Ms Upston says.
“Offenders in employment are less likely to reoffend. Regular income and the sense of self-esteem that comes from being in work is good for offenders, their families and the communities they live in. This Government is committed to targeted social investment that makes a real difference in the lives of New Zealanders.
Examples of recent WLS projects include:
- Taitokerau Community Law delivers financial education sessions to offenders at Whangarei Community Corrections. The aim of the presentation is to ensure the offenders have a greater awareness of the true total cost of purchases from local mobile shopping trucks. This includes how much interest they will pay over the duration of the higher purchase loan contract and how these can quickly spiral out of control.
- Waikato-based offenders have completed NZTA courses to help them obtain their traffic controller registration.
- Offenders in the Taranaki District took part in a Loves Me Not workshop designed by Lesley Elliott, the mother of Sophie Elliott who was murdered in 2008. The workshop involved hands-on exercises targeting family violence in all of its forms.
- Ashburton Community Corrections has been giving cooking lessons to local offenders to help them learn basic food nutrition and cooking skills.
“It’s great to see offenders being taught skills that may help them find jobs, turn their lives around and help their whanau and communities. I am looking forward to seeing more of these projects this year,” Ms Upston says.
The justice sector will receive an extra $115 million over four years to support the rollout of more police on the beat.
Justice and Courts Minister Amy Adams and Corrections Minister Louise Upston say the additional investment supports the work already underway to prevent crime and make communities safer. The $115 million funding boost for the Ministry of Justice and Department of Corrections is part of the Government’s larger $503 million Safer Communities package announced yesterday.
“The additional 880 police and 245 non-sworn staff will help prevent crime occurring and keep New Zealanders safe but, inevitably, it will also add pressure on our courts and prisons. This extra funding will enable Justice and Corrections to support the work being done by Police,” Ms Adams says.
Included in the Justice ($51 million) and Corrections ($64 million) funding is:
- $64 million for Corrections’ rehabilitation and reintegration programmes, and more staff
- A $16 million increase in legal aid
- $21 million to support District Courts to handle more cases
- $9 million for more judges.
“This investment builds on the National-led Government’s strong focus on preventing and reducing crime, supporting victims through the criminal justice system, and holding offenders to account,” Ms Adams says.
Ms Upston says the funding will assist Corrections to appropriately manage offenders in prison and in the community as well as continue to deliver programmes that improve rehabilitation and reintegration into the community.
“With an increased prison muster, it’s important that Corrections has the resources it needs to reduce reoffending and keep communities safe. Good management of offenders, which includes equipping them with the education and skills they require to lead productive and crime-free lives is essential for them, their families and for the community.”
The package builds on the $130 million Safer Sooner family violence package (which included 66 extra police to focus on family violence). As part of a wide-ranging work programme, the Government is also better supporting victims, reducing harm and helping keep communities safe.
Conservation Minister Maggie Barry and Associate Primary Industries Minister Louise Upston say projects to help kokako in Bay of Plenty have been given more than $125,000 from the DOC Community Fund.
“Rotoehu Forest is home to 150 North Island kōkako (Callaeas wilsoni) but has the space to support at least 500 birds. Over three years, three groups will work together to carry out a combination of pest control, wilding pine removal and other weed control,” Ms Barry says.
“This will improve the natural forest habitat and local environment for these special birds.”
Kaharoa Kōkako Trust has been given $25,100 over 2016/17 for wilding pine control and improve access for contractors and visitors to an area of Kaharoa Conservation Area where there are kōkako.
“The Kaharoa kōkako population is one of the most accessible in the North Island. They are vulnerable to predators and their habitat needs tall standing trees in order for them to flourish. These organisations are doing their best to ensure kōkako have a fighting chance at survival,” Ms Upston says.
Both of these projects complement the War on Weeds and Battle for our Birds initiatives already underway.
“An extra $16m over four years was included in last year’s budget to control wilding pines as part of the War on Weeds. More than $20m also came from Budget 2016 for the Battle for our Birds to help fight back against an explosion in predator numbers caused by heavy forest seeding, or mast.”
A third community grant will help the Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa Runanga Trust set up signs and interactive smart phone stations – or iPou - where people can access the story and images of Lake Ngahewa and Lake Ngapouri.
“It builds on other interpretive information projects underway in the area,” Ms Barry says.
Ms Upston made the announcements in Rotorua today.
“I’d like to thank Minister Upston for making the announcements for me today and National Rotorua MP Todd McClay for his support advocacy of conservation work in his local area.”
The funding recipients are:
- Rotoehu Ecological Trust $102,209. This project is a collaboration between Rotoehu Ecological Trust, Kaingaroa Timberlands and Ngāti Mākino Heritage Trust for pest and weed control in Rotoehu Forest where about 150 kokako live.
- Kaharoa Kōkako Trust $25,100. To clear and reform road access and control areas of wilding pines in the Kaharoa Conservation Area to improve the habitat and ecosystem where kōkako live.
- Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa Runanga Trust - $8,600. Signage and IPOU at Lake Ngahewa and Lake Ngapouri, to share environmental, cultural and historical information on the two sites.
The DOC Community Fund will distribute more than $4 million in 2016/17 to organisations ranging from small community groups working across a single site to national partnerships.
Corrections Minister Louise Upston today welcomed 113 new Corrections Officer graduates to the team.
“It is fantastic to see such a large group graduating and joining our efforts to keep our communities safe and reduce reoffending,” Ms Upston says.
The officers will be based at prisons across the country.
“I am grateful that they have chosen to bring their experience and expertise to the department,” says Ms Upston.
“Each of them will be a role model and have an important part in motivating some of our most challenging citizens to make positive changes to their lives and those of their families.”
Raniera Whiu from Northland Region Corrections Facility and Waka Morete from Mt Eden Corrections Facility were presented with the Minister’s Excellence Award for their leadership, professionalism and all around excellence during training.
“We need people like these. Their passion, leadership and willingness to support their colleagues, and prisoners to make a change is admirable,” Ms Upston says.
Waka, who comes to Corrections from Australia, is the first person recruited from overseas through the new campaign.
Corrections has launched a recruitment campaign to attract 600 new Corrections officers by September this year.
Hawera has a brand new Community Corrections building that will be safer for staff, Corrections Minister Louise Upston says.
The building is part of a five-year nationwide renewal programme to make Community Corrections sites more secure.
Ms Upston said the purpose-built building has the best modern facilities and security of any new Community Corrections site in the country.
“The building offers a safer working environment for staff as well as having facilities that encourage positive interactions with offenders and their families.
“The safety and security features at Hawera Community Corrections include CCTV monitoring, a main entrance that can be remotely locked, duress alarms and swipe card access to staff-only areas,” says Ms Upston.
The new site also includes an improved community work area and dedicated rooms where work and living skills programmes as well as rehabilitation, motivation and maintenance programmes can be delivered. A new whanau room provides a comfortable space where staff can meet families of offenders.
“Hawera staff have the tools and resources to manage offenders and keep the community safe,” Ms Upston says.
The 14 staff at the site manage 286 offenders on 339 community-based sentences and orders including home detention and community work.
The building was officially opened today by Corrections chief executive Ray Smith.
More than 30,000 offenders are serving community-based sentences at any given time. Community Corrections supports these people to motivate them to make changes in their lives and give back to their communities.
A Christchurch family in need will have a new home and prisoners from Rolleston Prison have gained life-changing skills, says Corrections Minister Louise Upston.
The Minister visited the Rolleston Prison construction yard today where she saw the 50th house refurbished by prisoners for social housing.
The Yard Project is a partnership between Corrections and Housing New Zealand which provides community offenders and prisoners with qualifications and skills for employment. It also helps rejuvenate social housing stock and enables offenders to contribute to the rebuilding of Canterbury.
“It is a huge accomplishment for the men to have refurbished 50 houses, and an enormous boost to the wider community. It changes their lives and the lives of the people who move into these houses and make them into homes,” says Ms Upston.
Prisoners learn new skills and earn qualifications for employment on release while working in the yard. Trades taught include basic carpentry and joinery, plastering, painting, roof-fixing and insulation installation.
“Learning vital trade skills that are sorely needed in the community means these men leave prison as more employable people,” Ms Upston says.
“Supporting prisoners into stable employment is key to improving the lives of offenders, their families, whanau and the wider community.”
More than six years on from the first Canterbury quake, the need for refurbished housing is reducing and there are fewer houses to be sourced from the Red Zone.
The prison is investigating other partnering options and construction opportunities in the building and fit-out of portable buildings.
Putaruru, Turangi and more parts of Taupo will benefit from a boost to the Ultra-Fast Broadband programme, Local MP Louise Upston says.
The Government yesterday announced it was investing $300 million to expand the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) programme to an additional 151 towns across New Zealand, plus 43 suburban fringe areas around the larger centres which were covered by the first phase of the programme.
“For our regions, this means the Taupo fringe and airport, Turangi and Putaruru will gain access to UFB,” Ms Upston says.
“High quality internet makes a difference to the way we run our local businesses, with access to the digital economy and greater commercial opportunities. In schools, students and teachers can benefit from online learning resources and explore innovative approaches to teaching and learning. It also brings convenience and efficiency to our everyday lives.
“The Government recognises the role of high quality internet in driving economic and social growth. We are working hard to deliver the best possible telecommunications infrastructure to all New Zealanders.”
Phase one of the UFB programme has already brought fibre access to more than a million households and businesses in 38 towns and cities across New Zealand including Taupo, Tokoroa and Cambridge.
“This expansion brings us closer to achieving our target of bringing faster broadband and better mobile coverage to 99 per cent of New Zealanders by 2025,” Ms Upston says.
Offenders across New Zealand completed more than 1.8 million hours of community work last year, says Corrections Minister Louise Upston.
A community work sentence requires offenders to complete a set number of hours of unpaid work which benefits the community.
“I am delighted to see those on community work sentences engaging in constructive activities aimed at positive change in themselves and helping their communities,” says Ms Upston.
“People sentenced to community work can use the opportunity to take responsibility for their offending and learn new skills and work habits.”
Offenders can be required to do between 40 and 400 hours of community work and can work up to 10 hours a day, or up to 40 hours in any one week. Sentences can include activities such as painting, gardening, building, graffiti-cleaning, restoration and recycling and the maintenance of public land.
“Community work can give offenders valuable skills and knowledge which may help them to gain paid employment later. We know stable employment can be a key to offenders maintaining crime-free lives. Community work is positive for offenders and for the communities they live and work in,” Ms Upston says.
Community work projects in 2016 included:
- Offenders from Ohakune, Raetihi and Taumarunui contributed around 720 hours to the development of the Ohakune Carrot Adventure Park which opened last October.
- Community work parties in Nelson helped with the Department of Conservation refurbishment project at Albion Square and supported the Sports Fishing for Youth Trust with maintenance of the fishing ponds and surrounding area.
- Community-based offenders from west Auckland have been completing their community work sentences at the Green Bay New Zealand Bird Rescue Charitable Trust, helping injured birds receive a new lease on life.
- 40 Te Awamutu community work offenders have begun a restoration project to plant more than 3500 native plants along the Puniu River as part of a key initiative of Waikato Regional Council and Sustainable Coastlines.
Community work is one of nine community-based sentences and orders managed by the Department of Corrections. It is supervised and is done in groups or individually.