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Case Study | Facilitating Peace Education Programmes in a Women’s Correctional Facility in NZ

13 Sep 2016, by Informa Insights

In lead up to the Correctional Services Healthcare Summit, at Informa Insights, we spoke to Catherine Gavigan, Director, National Centre for Training and Development regarding her international case study on “Facilitating Peace Education Programmes in a Women’s Correctional Facility in New Zealand”.

  1. You are the Director at National Centre for Training and Development -What have been some of the highlights of your career so far, in particular in your recent work facilitating peace education programmes.

As the Director of an education consultancy that specialises in the design and facilitation of personal  & professional development programs for all sectors – education: primary school through to adult professional development, corporate and government, the highlight for me is always in developing programs that work for a particular group of participants.

It works if they:

  • Enjoy the learning experience and are inspired to learn more
  • Select some tools they can implement immediately to improve the quality of their life
  • Use the tools on an ongoing basis to improve an area of their life and work

The Peace Education Program came out of a request from Corrections in South Africa to have a curriculum they could follow. My involvement in the development and roll out of the program has been a career highlight.  The program has now been translated into 14 languages and used in more then 48 countries. So the reach, of what I consider to be a excellent learning experiences for participants, is wide and the feedback excellent.That is gratifying.

  1. Your address at the conference will present An Educator’s Perspective on Facilitating Peace Education Programmes in a Women’s Correctional Facility in New Zealand. Without giving too much away about your upcoming presentation, are you able to explain the key factors in successfully facilitating peace education programs in correctional facilities.

Some key factors to successful facilitation of the Peace Education Program:

  • Participants need to choose, make an informed decision to come to the program. An Introduction to PEP is a good beginning – a one hour introduction with prospective participants so that they can determine if this is right fit for them at this stage of their life.
  • Explain that the peace education program has been designed for everyone, not just for people in correctional facilities. Giving participants an overview of what other organisations worldwide are using the program is very interesting to participants.
  • Deliver the program more than once in a Facility. Understanding of the value of such an education program grows as participants explain to others how the program is helping or has helped them.
  1. In your expert opinion, what are some of the biggest impediments to achieving inmate change and rehabilitation? Do you think there is enough emphasis placed on the importance of recognising mental health issues?

From my experience mental health issues are in abundance in Correctional facilities as are learning disorder.  The literacy and numeracy levels of many inmates are low and are an impediment to training for employment.

Mental health issues usually begin at a very early age in the lives of many inmates. Many come from disadvantaged backgrounds where they are not cared for physically or mentally.

As I continue to work in schools I see more anxiety, depression, mood disorders, learning and behaviour disorders and physical health issues that affect learning and development in Primary and Secondary students. Many such mental health issues are not treated professionally and lead to drug an alcohol addiction and anti-social behaviour in adulthood.  Some of these young people eventually end up in a correctional facility where, if there is to be change and rehabilitation, a professional holistic approach to their mental and physical health and wellbeing needs to be taken.  Delivering such an approach, is particularly difficult when there is staff shortages. My experience in NZ is that there is a huge willingness on the part of Correctional staff to do what is required to rehabilitate, but they are often overwhelmed by their case load numbers.

  1. Are there any presentations from the 7th Annual Correctional Services Healthcare Conference that you are particularly looking forward to? 
  • Assessing the Risk and Needs of Indigenous People in Custody
  • Conflict Intelligence



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