A chance for a fresh start

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Volunteers from throughout Southland pooled their resources to assist the Right Track programme on its mission to support repeat drink-drivers turn their lives around.

AFTER years in and out of the justice system, one woman has found the support she needed to get her life back on the right track.

One of 14 learner drivers, who did not want to be identified, took part in a six-week rehabilitation programme aimed at helping repeat drink-drivers put an end to their offending.

The Right Track programme was created to support repeat offenders understand the repercussions their actions created for themselves and those around them.

Last week the programme celebrated its second graduation ceremony at the Invercargill Community Centre, after the programme launched in Southland last year.

Ms Adams said she had been out of the system for years before she was charged with her latest offence of drink-driving.

“The court encouraged me strongly to do the programme. I did it because I didn’t want to be shoved back into the system again, or put on home detention where I wouldn’t learn anything.”

Initially she was not sure if the programme would work for her, but after completing it she was extremely grateful and left with no regrets, she said.

“It’s about turning a negative into a positive.

“I learnt more in the last six weeks than I did in in-house rehab.

“It’s like a little Wednesday family, all the events involved, the volunteers and supporters, they all made the difference.”

A support person for one of the learners said the programme went with the “bottom-up approach” for learners.

“They uplifted learners, instead of degrading them for their actions.”

If they went “too full-on” at the start, they could have easily lost the learner’s attention, he said.

Right Track gave offenders a better chance to turn their lives around by getting them into the programme soon after their court sentencing, he said.

“The course helps wake people up, it’s when stuff gets real for them.”

Another learner said the course had made them see how “selfish” they had been and that their actions had a widespread effect.

“It really hits you emotionally and truly has made me never want to offend again. I want to do as much as I can to stop others driving drunk too.

“Everyone was so supportive and did not judge anyone at all. I am very humbled to have met such compassionate people who are there to help people like me.”

Tiriana Shearer, a graduate from the first Right Track programme in Southland, said she returned to support the newcomers and learn more for herself.

“It was really interesting to watch people go through the emotions from start to finish and to see it from the other side.

“I’ve made some big steps in the last six months in terms of self-development and leadership.”

In her ceremony speech, Southland Right Track chairwoman Rebecca Coats thanked everyone who helped make the programme what it was.

“To the supporters, who have walked alongside your whanau, your sons, daughters, spouses or friends, your input, discussions, presence and active involvement is absolutely crucial and this programme cannot possibly run without you.

“To the learners, thank you for being honest and sharing with us your personal stories… The positive changes have been outwardly evident. Your promptness to the sessions, your engagement in discussions, your thoughtful evaluations and your more frequent smiles and confidence seem to have grown over this time.”

Ms Coates also thanked all of the volunteers, including St John, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, Road Safety Southland, The Ministry of Justice, The Department of Corrections, and the New Zealand police.

Road policing officer for Southland Jon Bisset said there were still too many people dying on Southland roads.

“We needed to try something different, this programme shows people things happen because of choice and it’s had some really good results.”

One of Right Track’s founders, John Finch, said the second programme ran “brilliantly”, so much so, he was trying to get another programme up and running in Dunedin.

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