7 September, 2020
A Northland programme to help prisoners rejoin society by building their skills and confidence through rail work is an exciting new initiative which will benefit the community, KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller says.
Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced $640,000 funding for KiwiRail’s “Second-Steppers” programme, which will provide training and support for the reintegration of 20 prisoners back into Northland’s community.
“Government investment to revitalise Northland’s rail line is already supporting local businesses and creating jobs in Northland. This additional funding means KiwiRail will be able to give something more back to the community,” Mr Miller says.
“Everyone knows how difficult it can be for prisoners to successfully reintegrate into the community. Giving them steady work, mentoring and manaaki tānga will enable them to learn new skills and assist with rebuilding their dignity.
“To start with, five carefully selected and vetted prisoners from Northland Region Corrections Facility, near Kaikohe, will be carrying out ‘release to work’ for us for six months. They’ll each go through a special course that provides a combination of health and safety, track maintenance, and personal development training. They’ll also be learning in an environment that offers Kaitohutohu (mentors) who can help support the growth of each participant.
“We’ve been building our workforce in Northland, and we want to bring on more local staff. This programme is designed to help up-skill the prisoners, with the intention to offer them full time work at the end.
“KiwiRail has a strong Māori network, and we want to inspire our next leaders and strengthen whakawhanaungatanga (relationships) with the communities around our rail operations.
“Rail will help to transform Northland and supporting prisoners to rejoin and contribute to society is a small but important part of that effort.”
KiwiRail expects the first group of five prisoners to begin work at our Whangarei Rail Depot in late September/early October. In total, 20 prisoners are expected to go through the Second-Steppers programme over the next two years.
KiwiRail is working with Corrections in selecting prisoners for the programme. There is a thorough pre-approval process and a number of factors are taken into account when assessing a prisoner’s suitability, including the prisoner’s security classification, their release and parole eligibility dates, their behaviour and potential impact on victims. Prisoners will be subject to electronic monitoring while on our sites and while travelling to and from Northland Region Corrections Facility each day.