Botany and Ormiston Times
Howick and Pakuranga Times : Howick and Pakuranga Times, Thurs, Sept 27
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The Child, Youth and Family (CYF) social worker is among the thousands of people across New Zealand saluted yesterday as part of National Social Workers Day. It’s held as a way to recognise the vital role they play in helping families. CYF employs 369 social workers at 14 sites in Auckland, including in Otara, where Ms Sepu- loni is based. She’s been in the job for seven years and works in youth justice with child and young offenders aged 12-17 in the East and South Auckland area. “We deal with the fve per cent of high-end offenders involved with the Youth Court,” the 31-year-old told the Times. “They would have gone through a process such as an intervention and are still reoffend- ing.” Ms Sepuloni becomes involved when police or another public agency deems it appropriate. It’s a job she enjoys. “I’ve always had a passion for working with children and young people,” Ms Sepuloni says. “I was studying toward a bachelor of educa- tion degree at the Auckland College of Educa- tion, but didn’t complete it. “It also offered a bachelor of social work and I knew that would be my niche. “My frst work placement was in this team [CYF Otara] and I’m still here. “I absolutely love it.” A large amount of Ms Sepuloni’s time is spent presenting reports in court, prepared on the people she’s trying to help. It’s often stress- ful, but there are specialist staff available if she needs advice. And to do the job successfully, she says it’s vital to build a rapport with the people she’s working with and their whanau. “We do an assessment with different tools and then put in the appropriate support serv- ices. “The main issue I’ve seen with offenders is their environment and care, and not just in the home, but with antisocial peers. “Sometimes with offenders we remove them from the home for a short period and work on their drug or alcohol issues. “It’s important to remove them so we can focus on what support we can put in place for their family, as they’ll eventually return home. “We can’t just address the offending. It has to be a collective approach.” Some of the worst situations Ms Sepuloni has seen involve young people raised in envi- ronments with limited access to positive role models. “Some come from families entrenched in gangs, or have issues with drugs or family vio- lence,” she says. “One of the extreme cases I’ve seen was a 12-year-old boy who committed an armed rob- bery at a petrol station with a frearm. “I’ve also had a 15-year-old boy who used marijuana three times a week every week since he was 12. “He’s since been diagnosed with psychosis. It starts with the home environment and the person’s friends, and drugs and alcohol.” Ms Sepuloni has also seen young people transform and begin lead- ing positive and productive lives. “We have successes with high- end offenders in the fact they stop committing crimes,” she says. “I’ve had one young person go on to study nursing at the University of Auckland. In terms of dramatic changes, he’d be high up on the list. “Parents are the key. If parents are absent and a young person is not get- ting support and structure and devel- oping into a good citizen, they’ll seek support elsewhere and fnd antisocial peers.” With all the highs and lows the job entails, there are moments making it all worthwhile. “You feel like a really proud parent when you’re working so closely with these young people and their fami- lies,” Ms Sepuloni says. “When they’ve gone through the system and stopped reoffending, that’s the whole reason I’m in this job. DEDICATED: The commitment of social workers such as Lisa Sepuloni was recognised throughout the country yesterday. Times photo Chris Harrowell Police arrest three teens By CHRIS HARROWELL POLICE have arrested and charged three teenagers with a number of offences after two commercial premises were targeted in less than half an hour. The Kathmandu outdoor clothing and supplies store at Botany Town Centre was broken into at about 8.15pm on September 4. Offenders threw a large rock through one of its front glass windows to gain entry. They stole 25 expensive winter jackets collectively valued at about $20,000. Thieves had previously targeted Kathmandu on May 25, stealing 52 jackets. Police believe the same group of teenagers, which allegedly burgled Kathmandu on September 4, attempted to break into NZ Laptops, at Westfeld Pakuranga, at about 8pm. They smashed a front window, but were unable to get inside. Following the investigations into the two incidents by Counties Manukau East Police’s tactical crime reduction unit, three male teenagers from Otara were arrested and charged with burglary, attempted burglary, and unlawfully being in a motor vehicle. One of the arrested teens, aged 16, was released on bail after appearing in the Manukau Youth Court on September 12. The second alleged offender, also 16, has been remanded into Child, Youth and Family (CYF) care until October 2, when he’ll be back in court after frst appearing on September 11. The third alleged offender, a 17-year- old, was remanded on bail with a 24-hour curfew to reappear in court on October 2, after making his frst appearance on September 11. Police referred another 16-year- old male to Youth Aid for allegedly receiving a stolen jacket taken from the Kathmandu store.
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