New course offers offenders job hope

By Simon Waters

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A Whanganui Prison instructor supervises a Growsafe trainee (spraying water).
A Whanganui Prison instructor supervises a Growsafe trainee (spraying water).

A new qualification in agrichemicals will be offered to city offenders and could increase their chances of finding employment, the Corrections Department says.

Nine community work instructors from Whanganui and neighboring towns have obtained Growsafe certificates, enabling them to train offenders.

"A Growsafe certificate is a highly sought-after qualification. It's the only qualification of its kind in the country and is recognised by many organisations including councils, roading contractors and the Department of Conservation," Whanganui Prison's assistant director Elizabeth Manchee said.

The certificate programme is a joint initiative between Whanganui Prison and Community Corrections and means community work supervisors are qualified to apply and supervise the use of agrichemicals in the workplace.

"It will be particularly useful at various tracks and walkways that we manage when supervisors may need to spray weeds," Corrections district manager Coralea Easther said.

"The flow-on effect of the training will benefit community-based offenders who could also be trained in the future."

Corrections manager Hati Kaiwai said the Growsafe certificate could lead to job opportunities "particularly in market gardening." Obtaining a sustainable job reduces the likelihood of re-offending, she said.

The course focuses on the safe use and management of agrichemicals and covers legislation, storage, transportation and disposal of chemicals.

Corrections said it did not know how many offenders would study the course but that it would only be available to offenders serving a community-based sentence.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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