Accountability through learning
A programme in partnership with Fire and Emergency New Zealand has helped young people who've offended take responsibility for their actions, and given them practical safety skills at the same time.
An alternative to community service
Taranaki Youth Justice Manager Trudi Baker championed the programme in partnership with Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ), as a meaningful alternative to community service in the area.
“Young people who have offended are required to achieve accountability as part of their Family Group Conference (FGC) plans,” says Trudi.
“Usually that’s through community service, apology letters or reparation.”
“It was a really exciting idea – to develop something that would help the young people to learn something useful while also being held accountable.”
Finding community service options was proving a challenge in the area, so a kaumātua on the local rangatahi court introduced the concept of Mahi Whakapai – ‘giving back to self and others’.
“It was a really exciting idea – to develop something that would help the young people to learn something useful while also being held accountable,” Trudi says.
The programme ran for five weeks throughout July-August 2018 at the West Volunteer Fire Station in New Plymouth. It focused on safety in a broad sense, covering driver safety, fire safety, drug and alcohol safety, and more.
Each session was practical, with activities including smoke alarm installation, a car cutting scenario with fire crews, and a kitchen demonstration with real flames.
Deepening community partnerships
Youth Justice Regional Manager Chris Polaschek would love to see the partnership with FENZ grow.
“There’s a great opportunity for a stronger relationship and for us to use their programmes more.”
Now that the rangatahi have completed the FENZ programme, they will be supported by the Taranaki Youth Justice team to ensure the rest of their FGC plan is followed.
The hope is that with our help, and with family and community involved, the young people take responsibility for their actions and make lasting, positive changes.