A special working relationship between Ara Poutama Aotearoa, the Department of Corrections, and Invercargill City Council is proving beneficial for both ratepayers and offenders, saving ICC about $200,000 per year.
Council Acting Manager – Parks Performance Kate Gough said ICC had developed a relationship with Corrections where people on Community Work sentences carried out maintenance, planting and repairs in the city’s parks and reserves.
“In summer, people subject to Community Work do some track renovations, cutting back vegetation growth, weeding around native plants, and applying mulch. In winter, they’re predominantly contributing to our Plant our Population programme, where they plant native trees and plants in our parks and reserves,” Mrs Gough said.
With the ongoing support of Corrections and the Community Work crews, Mrs Gough estimates Council has added about 10,400 hours of labour each year to important local projects. This equates to hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of labour and value to the Council and community over the past couple of years.
“The support of the Community Work crews means that our full-time rangers have been able to do more for our community, in other important areas,” she said.
“With the Community Work crew working in one area, our staff can go to another, and both communities feel valued.”
Mrs Gough said a recent example of work undertaken by these workers in the community was the re-instatement of an old walking track at Donovan Park.
Left in its natural state for many years, tree roots on the track had become exposed, creating trip hazards.
“So, to rectify that, we needed to create a smooth surface to walk over and create a formed track while retaining the natural vegetation,” Mrs Gough said.
The Community Work crew had to wheelbarrow gravel to the track, lay it to a specific thickness, then compact it.
The work took about six weeks with Community Work crews working on it for two-to-three days each week
Corrections’ Senior Work Supervisor Dave Madden said participation with these projects ensures the community obtains a positive outcome from the work, and people on Community Work sentences can gain a sense of achievement they can be proud of.
Dave Madden says the response from supervisors, workers and walkers was very satisfying for all concerned.
For Mrs Gough, the proof of the value of the work from the people serving their community work sentence came a few weeks after the project was completed.
“An older gentlemen rang up to say he absolutely loved the fact the Donovan Park track was resurfaced and he felt safer to be able to walk on it,” Mrs Gough said.