A newly trained Corrections Officer who will work at Christchurch Men’s Prison has won the Minister’s’ Excellence Award, presented this week by Corrections Minister Judith Collins.
Graeme Tu’inukuafe joins the Department after 20 years in the workforce. Although originally from the North Shore in Auckland, Graeme and his family have called Christchurch home for the last 14 years.
Graeme was looking for a new challenge when he applied for the role.
“I feel privileged and honoured to become a Corrections Officer, where I can use my skills and be someone who makes a remarkable contribution,” he says.
His instructors said Graeme, who is of Tongan heritage, “possesses what can best be described as moral-fibre and is a wonderful role model to both our Pasifika and Maori prisoners.”
Graeme was one of a group of 66 new recruits, including 22 women, who joined the Department just as it is embarking on a major campaign to recruit almost 600 new corrections officers by September next year. The new recruits will be based at prisons all over New Zealand. It is seeking to hire people from a range of backgrounds, but particularly from the Maori and Pasifika communities, to have a more diverse workforce that can represent and attend to the needs of prisoners.
The 600 new recruits are needed because the prison population is expected to reach 10,000 by 2017. This increase is due to more people being held in prison on remand than previously. Legislative changes have also meant prisoners serve more of their sentence in prison, and there has been an increase in prisoners serving longer sentences for more serious crimes. Corrections also needs officers for Mt Eden Corrections Facility after resuming management of the prison in July 2015.
Corrections Officers play a key frontline role in prisons.
“Working on the frontline at Corrections means working face to face with prisoners every day,” says Corrections Programme Manager Recruitment Andy Langley, who has been seconded from his role as Prison Director of Manawatu Prison for the recruitment role.
“Getting the right people is important to us. We are looking for people who enjoy being a role model and demonstrate the highest levels of integrity and credibility at all times. It’s a team environment so they need to look after each other as safety comes first.
“Our focus on reducing re-offending means we are looking for people who have great communication skills, are calm under pressure and genuinely believe people can change.
“We operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to reduce re-offending and keep the public safe. While it can be a challenging role, the rewards can be life-changing and that’s why the average length of time someone stays on our frontline is eight years.”
“Our people tell us their career at Corrections gives them the chance to work with a team of people who want to change lives. Recruits will get both career and personal growth, job security, a competitive salary, health checks and other benefits.”
New recruits will go through an extensive 16 week programme that combines workplace and classroom based learning. Recruits with previous experience may be able to take advantage of a fast-track process.