New schemes have been announced by the Government today to help young ex-offenders into jobs.
The schemes will help young former inmates get their driver's licences and develop manuka and kanuka products with help from the Provincial Growth Fund, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis announced in Kerikeri today.
The New Zealand Howard League for Penal Reform, a charity aiming to reduce reoffending, will receive a $7.5 million investment by the Provincial Growth Fund to expand its driver's licence programme in targeted regions, including Northland.
"The future flow-on effects from the Howard League investment are huge. Many entry level jobs require a driver's licence so getting one is essential to getting employment," Mr Jones said.
"The regions will have safer roads with fewer unlicensed drivers, a supply of young work-ready people, higher levels of employment and therefore more local spending. This programme also will help meet labour shortages in forestry, kiwifruit and pipfruit industries, construction and transport."
The Northland Region Corrections Facility and the Ngati Rangi Ahu Whenua Trust will receive an extra $70,000 in funding from the PGF, as well as another $23,000 from the Department of Corrections to study the potential for producing manuka, kanuka oil and other products as part of the scheme.
"Establishing an oil distillery, likely to be in Kaikohe, will provide training and long-term employment opportunities for the local community and inmates at the Northland Region Corrections Facility. I’m confident this will help reduce reoffending over time," Mr Davis said.
"This Government is pleased to support both projects as they have the potential to create real social and economic benefits in the local community while the oil project will also contribute to the Government’s One Billion Trees planting programme."