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Release To Work Programme Welcomed

Fresh Start

The decision by Corrections Minister Matt Robson to place new emphasis on the established Release to Work programme for minimum security rated inmates has been welcomed by Fresh Start Inc.

The National Secretary-Manager of Fresh Start Inc, Keith Hancox, said that efforts had been made since 1994 to persuade successive Ministers that Release to Work (RTW) could play a highly important role in ensuring rehabilitation and resettlement by inmates.

“Fresh Start has always argued that RTW makes it easier for ex-offenders to secure lawful, paid employment on release, Mr Hancox said.

“Not only are such inmates paying their way while still in prison, they are on their release less likely to become a social welfare burden on the State.

“RTW inmates pay “board” to their institutions of up to 30 % of their net income, with the balance (apart from a small weekly allowance) being held in a trust account or used to support dependants, to meet reparations or repay other debts.

“One Fresh Start client who has been on RTW since October 1999 was recently paid a $2,000 bonus and has been guaranteed permanent employment on release.

“In such circumstances that inmate is unlikely, on release on parole, to become a burden on the State and will, in fact, be in a position to make a positive contribution to the community.”

Ends

Further relevant press release and background material attached.

Record Fresh Start Performance continues


Fresh Start Inc. made giant strides during the year to June 30, assisting 216 registered clients to secure full time paid employment.

Announcing the result, Fresh Start National President, Hon Jonathan Elworthy, said that the increase of 67 or 45 % over the previous year reflected outstanding work by Fresh Start Field Officers.

“As a result of their efforts and the excellent cooperation that we received from employers and the Department of Work and Income we believe that Fresh Start has made a substantial contribution to a safer community by helping to reduce re-offending, Mr Elworthy said.

“International research, especially in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, clearly shows that ex-offenders helped into paid employment are less likely to re-offend.

“Re-offending as high as 80 per cent in New Zealand is unacceptable. Helping ex-offenders into paid employment is the most cost effective way of reducing recidivism.”

Mr Elworthy said that Fresh Start was working with Ministers and Departments to urgently increase its field staff to meet community demands.

“The Taranaki Safer Community Council has made a special plea for a Fresh Start Field Officer to be appointed to help ex-offenders find lawful, paid employment in the Taranaki and Wanganui regions,” he said.

“We have sought Government help to meet that urgent request and also to meet the needs of other communities.

“Given the resources we are confident that we can achieve even better results in the interests of the whole community,” Mr Elworthy said.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The (declared) ethnicity of Fresh Start clients placed in employment in the year to June 30 - Caucasian 28.6%; Maori 60.1 %; Polynesian 10.1 %; Other 1.2 %

At June 30 Fresh Start had helped place a total of 562 clients in employment since July 1996.
In July a further 21 clients were placed bringing the total to 583.

Fresh Start Inc. is an IRD approved, charitable and community based employment initiative for ex-offenders. There are strong indicators that there is a direct relationship between a reduction in family violence, paid employment and the rehabilitation / resettlement of ex- offenders.
It is well established that unemployment is a corrosive influence upon rehabilitation.

Fresh Start's Mission Statement -
Reducing re-offending and promoting a safer society by providing employment opportunities for persons with criminal convictions.


1. Fresh Start’s operational principles include:
* A commitment by all ex-offenders NOT to re-offend and to remain drug free;
* Full disclosure (to Fresh Start and employers) of criminal convictions by Fresh Start job applicants;
* Non discriminatory employment practices (by employers) against persons with criminal convictions where the convictions) are not relevant to a job;
* Demonstrated commitment by all Fresh Start registrants to a way of life that accepts and embraces societal norms;

2. Objectives -
Fresh Start's current 3-year plan (99-02) includes the following objectives:
* To foster among all employers a willingness to employ ex-offenders
* To work in partnership with clients, families and employers to promote the employment of ex-offenders
* To encourage ex-offenders and families to contribute positively to the resolution of their own problems

3. Outcomes
* Strengthening family relationships and less family and other violence
* Less personal and family reliance on Social Welfare Active contributor to the community
* Better attitude to drugs / alcohol, and
* Reduced crime and recidivism

4. Expected impact
The rate of recidivism will be reduced with consequential reductions in family violence and other offending. Substantial financial and social benefits will accrue and result in a safer more productive society. International studies support this contention.

5. Participating organisations and individuals
Fresh Start Inc. representative members are The New Zealand Employers Federation (& its constituents), the Department of Corrections, the N.Z. Council of Trade Unions, New Zealand Trade Union Federation, Dept of Work & Income, the Community Employment Group and other organisations and individuals.

Office holders include The Rt. Rev. Sir Paul Reeves (Patron), Douglas Myers, Simon Caughey and Hon Sir Peter Tapsell (Vice Patrons), Hon Jonathan Elworthy (President) and Professor Jim Rowe (Vice President).

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