Group’s work with teens praised

Stratford Press - - News - By ILONA HANNE

When An­drew Lit­tle stopped off in Strat­ford on Fri­day he had words of praise for the work be­ing done by START Taranaki in Kaponga.

START (Sup­port­ing To­day's At Risk Teenagers) was founded by Neville Phillips and is a com­mu­nity-based Su­per­vi­sion with Ac­tiv­ity (SwA) provider which works with at risk youth.

Jus­tice Min­is­ter An­drew Lit­tle said it was the first time he had vis­ited the team at START Taranaki and he was re­ally im­pressed by what he had seen and heard dur­ing his time there.

“They have achieved some great out­comes with their clients, who have come from some re­ally tough back­grounds and the teach­ing strate­gies be­ing used there are re­ally im­pres­sive.”

Lit­tle said New Zealand has one of the high­est in­car­cer­a­tion rates in the OECD (Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Eco­nomic Co-op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment), some­thing which the coun­try should not be proud of. “We also have one of the high­est re­of­fend­ing rates, and have for a long time, so it is clear just lock­ing peo­ple up for longer isn’t the an­swer to the prob­lems we have got.”

New Zealand can learn from other pe­nal sys­tems, he said, cit­ing a visit he made to the Nether­lands as an ex­am­ple of how things can be done dif­fer­ently.

“They fo­cus on cre­at­ing op­por­tu­nity for the max­i­mum con­tact be­tween prison­ers and staff, as well as keep­ing prison­ers oc­cu­pied in pro­duc­tive ac­tiv­ity and work through­out the day. The staff wear civil­ian style cloth­ing rather than uni­form, and the in­mates them­selves aren’t in tra­di­tional prison garb ei­ther. They are taught how to live in the civil­ian world prior to their re­lease, with spe­cial units set up for them near the end of their sen­tence where they learn to cook, shop and clean be­fore they are re­leased.”

It is no­table, said Lit­tle, that re­of­fend­ing rates in the Nether­lands are much lower than in New Zealand.

Re­form is on the way for the New Zealand jus­tice sys­tem he said, with a Ch­ester Bor­rows-led Safe and Ef­fec­tive Jus­tice Pro­gramme Ad­vi­sory Group - Te Uepu Ha­pai i te Ora to - cur­rently work­ing to re­port back to the min­is­ter next year on ways to im­prove the sys­tem.

Lit­tle said the group are vis­it­ing towns and cities around the coun­try hold­ing a se­ries of meet­ings and drop in ses­sions with the com­mu­nity. They will be in Taranaki on Novem­ber 15.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.