10 June 2024

Supporting community work as a probation officer

Robb (R) with Community Work Supervisor colleague Reece (L) with lettuces grown as part of a Community Work project, ready to deliver to a community organisation


Probation Officer Robb says that he’s not one to have regrets in life, but one of them is that he didn’t do his current role sooner.

He’s a Probation Officer working specifically with people on community work sentences, supporting them to complete their hours and use their time on sentence in a beneficial way.

While Robb isn’t generally there for the community work projects themselves (that’s a job for the Community Work Supervisor) he is there before and after the work parties go out, when they gather at the Community Corrections centre.

“In between that I’ll do my usual probation officer duties - any home visits, reports to write, that kind of thing.”

He starts each morning with the work parties with a karakia, helping to put everyone at ease and ready for the day.

“Every morning we start, we gather around in a circle, and we talk about what we're going to do that day, what project we got on and then we do karakia. That might seem like something small, but when you share that with people and help them to feel included in it, it can make a huge difference.”

As someone who migrated here from the US, having the opportunity to explore and embrace te ao Māori is one of the things that Robb enjoys the most about his work.

He also enjoys focusing on community work and getting to see the results for the community of the work parties.

“Community Work helps organisations, schools, maraes, and many other places. To see a team swoop in for a day and accomplish what they do is pretty cool.”

As well as supporting people in completing their community work hours, Robb may also help to connect them with other services. That could include a cooking or budgeting course as part of the Work and Living skills aspect of some community work sentences. Or it could involve working with the Howard League to support someone to get their Drivers Licence.

He says that they while not a quick and easy fix, it’s rewarding to be part of people’s rehabilitation journeys.

“We hope that we get a couple of big wins for people, but it might also be that they grow a little bit or start to make better decisions.

It makes me feel proud and realise that change is slow but best accomplished by being what we want others to be. It helps me to bring new practices into my own life too - I’m constantly evaluating my Te Whare Tapa Wha.” 

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