Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award helping young offenders gain new skills

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis has congratulated 11 young offenders for achieving The Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award - including the first prisoner in New Zealand to ever achieve the Gold Award.

At the ceremony in Christchurch Men’s Prison Youth Unit today, Mr Davis said completing the Award was a big achievement for the young men.  

“The Award has helped them step out of their comfort zones and taught them new skills, including leadership, goal-setting and decision-making. These skills and their proven motivation to succeed will help them make the right choices once they are released back into the community.

“A lot of young people end up in prison because they haven’t had the best role models, environment or opportunities growing up. Helping them gain the skills they need to get into further training, education or work reduces their likelihood of re-offending which means our communities are safer.

“These young offenders have also raised $400 for Te Whare Hauora (formerly Otautahi Women's Refuge) by running a sponsored marathon inside the prison. This was a great way for them to complete the physical recreation requirement for the Award while also give something back to the local community.”

In addition to physical recreation, participants also complete volunteering, skills development and adventure activities, allowing them to reach bronze, silver or gold levels of the Award.

One young man received a Gold Award at the ceremony, making him the first prisoner in New Zealand to achieve The Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award at this level while in prison. 

Two young men were awarded Gold Adventurous Journey Sectional Certificates for part completion of the Gold Award, while two others received Silver Awards and six received the Bronze Award.

“Prison presents some unique challenges for completing some of the activities, such as camping out overnight, but the staff do a great job making sure the young people can carry out the activities safely and securely,” Mr Davis said.

Corrections has worked with The Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award to run the programme for young offenders at Christchurch Men’s Prison, Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison and Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility since 2016.