Media Release: PARS are positively transforming the lives of deportees
Back in October, Minister Judith Collins called for a Memorandum of Understanding between New Zealand and Australia to improve the process of Kiwis who have committed a crime across the ditch and then been deported back to New Zealand.
"In light of the 'Bayliss' case I asked my officials for advice around improving the management of New Zealanders who are charged and convicted in Australia and deported back to New Zealand," Ms Collins said.
Answering this call, at least in some senses, is PARS Inc. (formerly known as Prisoner Aid and Rehabilitation Society of Auckland District Inc.), who are positively influencing the lives of convicted deportees from Australia (and other parts of the world) and ensuring their positive reintegration into New Zealand society.
The case of Auckland resident, Mark, is an example of one of PARS' success stories… Born in New Zealand, Mark moved to Australia as an infant, living 46 of his 47 years there. Growing up as an Aussie, for all intents and purposes, Mark never imagined that he would one day be back in his country of birth, and not by his choosing. However, once here, PARS helped Mark with a second chance at life.
Mark has had a difficult adult life, struggling with mental illness, including ADHD and OCD. Because of these difficulties, he fell into a dangerous lifestyle, spending a total of 12 years out of the last 24 behind bars. When his last sentence was up, the courts ruled that he should be deported - back to his "homeland", New Zealand.
After saying goodbye to her husband, unsure of when she would see him again, Mark's wife contacted PARS, hoping that they could help him to settle in. PARS was on the case, helping Mark to deal with WINZ initially, and get set up in his own place, feeling secure and stable. From a community point of view, the input of experienced case workers from PARS means that risks of reoffending are mitigated and there is support for deportees who have been convicted in other jurisdictions.
"It's a win-win," says Tui Ah Loo, Executive Director at PARS. "We're the line thrown to deportees and ex prisoners on day one. Our staff are passionate and believe in the cause they are working for. They command respect and our clients repay that by turning their lives around. They are grateful and realise they are lucky to have had the support they get from us."
Since PARS became involved in Mark's life, he's begun a positive journey towards responsibility and happiness, even taking on a new job concreting in Orewa, which is helping to fill his time and earn him some money. He is determined to get back on his feet and make some money to help out his family.
Without PARS, Mark says: "I would probably be back in prison, as it would have been easier than trying to create a whole new life here in New Zealand without any support." He says that he was encouraged by PARS to "keep battling", firm in the belief that things would fall into place.
"The work we do is vital for the community," says Tui. "Without the support of PARS, ex-prisoners are left to navigate the added difficulties of a post-prison life alone, particularly ones that have their lives uprooted to move back to New Zealand. PARS are vital to breaking the cycle and helping clients to reintegrate positively back into society."
After being without his family since he moved back, Mark is desperate to bring them out to New Zealand. Despite his setback, Mark remains positive about staying out of prison and supporting his family. And now, with the help he needs, the future is looking bright for Mark. With his positive attitude, hard work and the help of PARS, Mark has managed to turn his life around.
Christina Wedgwood, Intelligent Ink
09 629 4213 or 027 631 1071