Better Public Services Result 8 - Case Study: Corrections, Police, Work and Income find jobs for offenders
The Department of Corrections Central Region has been working closely with other agencies to help offenders find work.
In Tauranga, Community Probation staff are working with Work and Income to find jobs for offenders in a new pilot programme. Already six offenders have found jobs in the pilot which involves probation officers profiling work-ready offenders for an assigned work broker who then endeavours to find them work.
Kim Smith, Acting Principal Advisor – Employment Development, is encouraged by the results so far.
“We know that people in regular employment are less likely to re-offend but for many offenders it can be immensely difficult to find work. Having a work broker able to assist them in this challenge makes it easier for people to make positive life changes. It’s fantastic that Work and Income are working with us to help people that might otherwise fall through the cracks in our system. And while six of our “job seekers” have found work so far, the sky’s the limit. We are experiencing a lot of support in the community from employers willing to give a person a second chance.
To ensure long term success we only profile our most work ready people, those with a positive can do attitude and who genuinely want to work to support themselves and their families. Our role is not to force people to work but to assist those that want it to overcome some of the hurdles they face.
Probation officers are vital to this working as they do the motivational work prior to being referred, they help build confidence to even apply for a job, and talk through how to explain their convictions. For some job seekers that have not worked before or in a very long time, we work with the basics like what to do if your boss tells you do something”
This pilot has been a great opportunity to show how two different government organisations can pool their resources and expertise and help the people we are here to assist in a positive way. It’s a great honour to help someone get a good job, its like giving someone a winning lotto ticket. This has been a very rewarding experience for everyone involved and we look forward to many more job seekers getting work through this process.
In Tokoroa, Corrections, Police, and Work and Income staff are working collaboratively to get young offenders on the right track.
“Corrections wants offenders to re-engage with Community Work, so they complete their sentences successfully. This ensures they are held to account for their offending and may offer them a chance to develop work or other life skills that will help reduce the likelihood reoffending,” said Amanda Neill, Corrections Tokoroa Service Manager.
Staff from the three agencies have started meeting regularly to look at ways to work together more effectively, and it has already led to positive outcomes. Their aim is to get young offenders off the streets, crime-free and into work.
The agencies are working to break down barriers which may hinder employment. Collaboration between Corrections and a work broker from Work and Income has led to around eight offenders being placed in work, such as tree pruning.
“A job can provide people with a sense of purpose, regular routine and economic well-being, which all contribute to them becoming crime-free. Breaking the cycle of crime results in fewer victims and safer communities,” said Amanda Neill.
“Under the Joining Forces programme, Police and Corrections share expertise and resources in ways that help us operate as effectively as possible. To do this we are exploring how we work together now, identifying opportunities to do some things differently and encouraging both small and large initiatives.”
"We are giving our full support to this collaboration as it fits fairly and squarely within our drive to prevent crime,” said Inspector Steve Bullock, Area Commander for Taupo Police.
“History tells us unemployment and crime are linked to some degree in every community and studies demonstrate that many young people enter the criminal justice system and stay there for a long time revolving in a desperate cycle of incarceration and re-offending. Police, now more than ever, recognise that opportunities exist to turn lives around, especially the lives of young people. Corrections and Work and Income have enabled us to explore those opportunities with some very good early results."
The agencies are working together to identify appropriate training or employment opportunities for young offenders.