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Review validates support for new recruits

Review validates support for new recruits

An independent review has found the Department of Corrections’ newly-recruited Samoan corrections officers are happy to have been given the opportunity to live and work in New Zealand.

The review, by Niu Vision Group, shows the new recruits are happy with the support they have received from Corrections.

Chief Executive Barry Matthews said Corrections sought the independent review after claims in the news media and allegations from the Corrections Association of New Zealand (CANZ) that new Samoan recruits were being left without adequate support from the Department, falling prey to loan sharks and reliant on food banks for help.

“We wanted to identify any issues being experienced by the new recruits that had not been anticipated, and to look at the effectiveness of the support available to help the new recruits settle into their work and their new lives in New Zealand. We also wanted to look at whether improvements could be made for any future international recruitment initiatives,” said Mr Matthews.

Forty-three of the 45 new recruits working in Auckland, Waikato and Wellington were interviewed as part of the review. Interviews and group discussions were conducted in Samoan.

Mr Matthews said the review concluded that Corrections’ Samoan recruitment drive was “an overwhelming success”, and refuted claims the new officers were not being adequately supported.

“The review found no evidence the recruits and their families were living in overcrowded conditions – the nearest to overcrowding was a family of six sharing a five bedroom house with relatives, which they described as a comfortable fit.

“What the review has shown is that, for many of the recruits, finding suitable and affordable accommodation was a significant challenge. The recruits felt they should have been given more information about finding accommodation, particularly the high rents and the need to pay a bond.”

Mr Matthews said one of the most disturbing findings of the review was that new recruits reported being harassed and intimidated by members of CANZ, a union that represents around 60% of corrections officers.

The review found that the new recruits believed allegations made by CANZ in the news media were “part of the union’s agenda to use them as pawns in its battles with the Department over pay negotiations”. Of significance, the review also found the new recruits were united in their sadness and disbelief when they heard CANZ’s allegations about their situation in the media.

“We will be communicating directly to CANZ officials our concerns about the negative impact the unprofessional behaviour of their members has had on the new recruits,” said Mr Matthews.

The Samoan recruitment exercise was the first offshore recruitment activity undertaken by the Public Prisons Service. Based on the findings of the review, it is evident the selection and settlement process for recruits from Samoa was robust and comprehensive, said Mr Matthews.

“However, we are considering improvements to the settlement information package offered to new recruits arriving from overseas and the possibility of integrating information from other government agencies into our recruitment seminars.

“We are also developing a safety net for new recruits in the event they need help settling into their new lives in New Zealand.”

ENDS

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