Up to 200 New Zealanders are being held in detention centres in Australia, and may be deported back here if they have served more than a year in prison. Their deportation puts additional strain on hardworking charities such as Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation Society (PARS). Chief Executive of PARS, Tui Ah Loo, has noted that her organisation is expected to put up deportees in a motel, help them set up a bank account and IRD number and provide clothes and food. This sort of support does not come cheap. However, the alternative – turning away someone in need and at risk – is certainly not an option.
PARS seldom, if ever, speak out in the media, so when they do we know that they mean business. Tui has told Radio New Zealand that the intensity of support that deportees are needing from PARS has doubled in recent times, with funding and capacity running very thin. In response, the Department of Corrections has funded PARS with a one-off $100,000 grant to assist deportees on their return to New Zealand. This is a testament to both the urgency of the deportee situation, and the incredible work that PARS do.
Given that some former prisoners have lived in Australia for 35 years before being deported, they may not have family and support networks to help transition to a new life. The work of PARS is designed to make this transition manageable. It is an incredibly important task, as leaving former prisoners to their own devices in an unfamiliar setting is not the best way to avoid reoffending. PARS supports people at risk and encourages them to become independent and responsible. It really is a fantastic organisation and the $100,000 funding is recognition of this vital work.