Families of the men in Rimutaka Prison’s Te Whare Manaakitanga unit received their first pānui this month.
The unit’s Community News is produced entirely by the men in our care – from content ideas, to writing, to design and layout.
Psychological Services Manager Nicky Perkins says creating the monthly pānui has been a rewarding experience for everyone involved.
“The initiative came from a brainstorm between staff and men in the unit on how we could increase our engagement with whānau, without placing them under additional pressure. We have a number of whānau events in our unit, but it requires them to travel or take time off work,” she says.
A newspaper committee was formed, including a staff-nominated editor and a team of reporters. Each month, the committee decides on a selection of stories and events their whānau may be interested in, and set about doing the work. The finished product is either emailed or posted to families.
“They type the stories on laptops, format it, and proofread each other’s work. It’s an initiative carried out entirely by the men in our care.
“Our inaugural issue was four pages, but I’ve got a feeling the next one’s going to be a bit longer because they’ve gotten excited about it. It’s been really well received by whānau, and at the end of the day that was our goal,” says Nicky.
In the next edition, one of the men will draw a picture to be included as a colouring competition. The men’s kids will be able to take a photo of their creations, email their entries to Nicky, and the newspaper committee will judge a winner. A small prize and certificate will be posted to the winner.
Nicky says it’s a beautiful way for the men to engage their families.
“This is so outside of the comfort zone for these men. But their whānau are so important to them that they’re willing to put in the work and try something new.
“They interview people in the units and work hard to include as many men as possible. When we do smaller activities, they may go and get a quote from one man. It means that man gets to have his name in the newsletter when it goes out to his children and whānau. They can see what their dad is doing,” she says.
To ensure anonymity, first names only are used in the pānui and faces don’t appear in the photos. All laptops are not connected to the internet or the Corrections network.
Are you a Psychologist who is interested in a career change?
Psychologists (Kaimātai Hinengaro) assess and treat offenders who have a high risk of re-offending and who often present with complex psychological issues. Working both in the prison and in the community, they assess the individual needs and provide one-on-one or group treatment.
Kaimātai Hinengaro have a strong professional identity in the department. They report to psychologists and are supported by a National Office team led by our chief psychologist.
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