As-Salaam-Alaikum, everyone. My name is Tahmin Islam and I am a Corrections Officer at Auckland Prison in Paremoremo. I joined Ara Poutama Aotearoa at the beginning of 2020, and it has been an interesting ride so far, what with COVID-19 and all the Auckland-Tāmaki Makaurau lockdowns since March last year.
I can’t hide the fact that I am so proud of the way in which we, as a team at Auckland Prison, have come together to keep everyone, both staff and prisoners, safe, secure and healthy throughout the many months of the coronavirus pandemic in our midst. It has been, and still is, a challenge, especially since the onset of the Delta variant. But, we are giving it our everything to keep everyone safe, and management and staff continue to look out for one another, keeping our morale up.
On a more personal note, it is my privilege to share with you a little of my own story. I am originally from Dhaka, Bangladesh and have been in Aotearoa New Zealand for approximately 15 years. I grew up in a culturally diverse environment. Both my father and mother worked for the then International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, now known as ICDDE. My dad died when I was very young and my mum raised me and my four siblings with much care and love, instilling in us a respect for other cultures. While still in Bangladesh, I won several medals in judo and karate championships at national level, and also trained as a flood support volunteer.
When my husband and I and our first-born relocated to New Zealand, I was juggling a full-time job, together with my responsibilities as a mother, and wife to a student husband. Two more babies were born, while I was completing my Master of Professional Accounting through Victoria University Wellington | Te Herenga Waka.
However, through all the ups and downs during this time, I never gave up on myself or my goals to make a meaningful contribution to New Zealand society. The resilience I have developed over the years is now standing me in good stead, as does my six years of teaching experience. Addressing and managing the various needs of the men we support at Auckland Prison requires patience, fostering sound relationships, building trust, and facilitating many different priorities.
With the department’s Hōkai Rangi strategy as guidance and the ongoing training I am receiving to expand my skill set, I work alongside my colleagues to help create a positive environment where we can motivate and support the men to turn their lives around.
The Department of Corrections employs staff from many diverse backgrounds. I find this respect for diversity and inclusion encouraging and motivating. Not only do I feel accepted, but I am also learning more about the Māori worldview that helps me understand how a reconnection with whakapapa and community can restore the mana of the people we manage.
Something I really value is that Corrections provides a wide range of career development opportunities to its staff members. In my case, for example, I have completed offender management training, control and restraint training, and obtained my health and safety NZQA certificates. I am now a health and safety representative at Auckland Prison and also did a stint as education tutor in a secondment opportunity.
I look forward to what the future holds and would like to encourage you to consider a career with Ara Poutama Aotearoa. ‘Kotahi anō te kaupapa: ko te oranga o te iwi’ / ‘There is only one purpose to our work: the wellness and wellbeing of people’.
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