Vernon, BC July, 2002
It was with gratitude and some trepidation that I accepted the nomination to be BCPOA President again this year. Like most of us, my life is thankfully pretty full, but with the financial noose tightening around our respective necks now is not the time to relax our advocacy for the needs and tremendous benefits associated with maintaining healthy probation services with dedicated staff. Experience tells us that governments are much like great bureaucratic super tankers, in that once they plot a course, stopping or turning them around is a time consuming and intricate task. Letís just hope that this one isnít to social and justice services what the Exxon Valdez was to the environment. As with the previous government however, it is important to recognize that the majority of members are well intentioned and it is our responsibility as an association to properly inform them of our issues, needs and assets
In many ways our current situation mirrors that faced in the tumultuous transition years. We have that experience (ergo the super tanker analogy) to draw from and are hopeful it will serve us well. Though some expressed concerns about our advocacy during that period, I believe the results speak for themselves. While we greatly annoyed Glen Clark, we picked up significant support from the Opposition Liberals, support in spirit which apparently continues. At the end of the day, most Youth Probation Officers view MCFD transition a relative success, a reality partly due to the fact that MCFD management recognized that Probation Officers were fiercely proud of service, well organized and determined to ensure that our effectiveness didnít suffer. It is my personal view that MCFD has bent over backwards to accommodate the unique needs and perspectives of Probation Officers and for that I am extremely grateful.
Unfortunately, as was totally predictable, the transition math didnít work and something was going to have to suffer. The hands down loser was Adult Probation, a service that had already absorbed an 84% increase in probation workload and a 225% increase in bail supervision workload with only a corresponding 24 % increase in staffing between 1990 and 1999.
Despite an ongoing series of creative management initiatives followed by their dutiful implementation by dedicated staff, the fear remains that adult community services are slowly but surely devolving into a token service in many parts of the province. Extreme existing workload pressures will be increasingly exacerbated by the loss of valuable contracted services and, future possible F.T.E. loss. Management are quickly running out of options before our ability to adequately supervise medium and high risk offenders becomes as diluted as our approach to those who statistically compute as low. More than ever we must work together to at least save what we have while we promote the significant social and fiscal benefits of our respective services.
In the coming months the adult and youth communities hope you will provide them with your thoughts, ideas and suggestions. In this edition of the newsletter you will note the names and contact points of the committee members. They want to know what your present operating reality is like and would like to get that information sooner rather than later. Meetings with Ministers Hogg and Coleman are planned and, as well, we intend to maintain a running dialogue with ADMís and senior management in an effort to support sensible decision-making. We plan to continue closer liaison with the BCGEU to ensure that the integrity of the profession is protected from a contractual point of view. Thanks to Barry Neufeld's hard work, a BCPOA website is an exciting work in progress and this newsletter gets better every edition. Closer affiliation and liaison with other professional associations within our respective systems remains an important and necessary goal as well. As always, we will try to provide venues for social interaction and we welcome your participation, particularly at our annual AGM.
By the time you read this, our ex president Dave Thackray will be enjoying a well-deserved 6-month salary deferment leave. Normally I am hatefully envious of people with the kind of foresight necessary to arrange these things, but Dave is impossible to dislike under any circumstances. Our thanks go to him for his dignified and tireless efforts on behalf of our profession over the past couple of years. Also leaving us as executive members are Barb Huston, and Lewis Liew. Barb was our "Madame Treasurer" for several years. Actually, her husband (an accountant) was really the Treasurer leaving Barb more time to develop the "Madame" side of her personality. Jamie Ė our union expert Ė apparently needs the time and space to gear up for what will likely be a hectic year as the union tries to protect the contractual interests of Youth Probation Officers, Social Workers and others from the potentially damaging impacts of Governance. Hopefully he will find the time to keep us informed through newsletter reports and our best wishes go to him and our other BCGEU reps in this important work. Every time we had an important meeting, Lewis escaped on a trip abroad, but hopefully he too will rejoin us once his wanderlust is satiated. To compensate for these losses we welcome as executive members, newsletter mogul Sue McRae, and her 6í 12" "deadline- Nazi assistant Darryl Persello and the irrepressible Barry Neufeld of cyberspace fame. Bye also to our favourite Valley Girl, Carrie McCulley, who was a newsletter volunteer and the bad behaviour catalyst of every AGM she attended. Carrie and her husband are off to Calgary to pursue new opportunities. Thanks to all, "old "and new.
Lastly, it is important for you to know that we are virtually broke and that your executive members are not only expending their personal time to do association business, but now their own money as well. In the very near future, we hope to arrange a payroll deduction option for those of you who have (understandably) found it difficult to support the cause. Not only do we need your financial support but, as importantly, we need your moral support in numbers to advance issues in any credible way. The $40.00 is tax deductible and is our only present source of income. Without your support, the BCPOA will be toast soon.
In closing, may I quote the observation of Rob Watts, a sagely ex-PO, who noted that probation is effectively an "invisible" service to the majority of the public and government leaders. If probation is not publicly confused with parole, it is usually only identified in the context of being "only probation". Iím sick and tired of hearing the term "only probation" as if that judicial choice was a cop out or an alternative to something meaningful and/or worthwhile. We and our other system partners know how valuable our contribution to community safety and offender rehabilitation can be, but it doesnít do us much good if we keep it as a secret. Probation Officers and Bail Supervisors need to develop a higher level of public recognition and respect if we hope to improve our job satisfaction potentials in the future. Management can only do so much in this regard. The rest is up to us. With a collective voice and a constructive message we may be able to stay or reverse the slow deterioration of resourcing which will be necessary for us to avoid the inevitable shift from a proud profession into an uninspired collection of enforcement clerks. Over to you and all the best
"Sticks and Stones may break my bones,
But words will never hurt me."
That little jingle used to be a retort I used in elementary school when I endured the taunts of bullies because I was the son of a fundamentalist preacher. However, in the REAL world, that is FALSE! Words can cause unbearable hurts, cause deep wounds and have devastating results.
I was honored to be invited by Bill Bertchey, the Quilqwelstom Keeper of the Circle of the St6:18 People to be a member of the sentencing circle for the youth who bullied a middle school girl just before she took her own life. Mr. Bertchey organized the event, invited participants, and was the facilitator of the Circle. Canada is becoming internationally famous for its sentencing circles, a "restorative practice" which is part of the movement for Justice to become less vengeful and more restorative. Bullying has gripped the attention of the media.
Are schools a safe place? St6:16 Elder Herb Joe didn't think so: he told a story about a family member who was assaulted at school but the offender got off with a slap on the wrist. Another First Nations grandmother wanted to home school her adolescent boy rather than send him to middle school.
However, Mission Secondary School Principal Randy Huth (son of our own Sig Huth) and First Nations support Teacher Jody Shaw believe that public schools are making progress in combating bullying. We still wonder what has happened to teenage girls to recently make them so spiteful and violent to each other. Crown Counsel Wendy Harvey was very eloquent in her speech about bullying, teen suicide and her newfound respect for spirituality in the sentencing process. Over the years she has developed a reputation as a prosecutor with a heart of compassion for victims. Defense Counsel Daryl Shultz called for an end to the malicious gossip that kept feeding the media. Here in Chilliwack, due partly to the efforts of the Safe Schools Committee we have a record percentage of schools with anti-bullying and safe school programs.
Tonightís evening news covered it. It will probably be on Oprah again! My only input was to support the High School Principal and the Native Support Teacher. By consensus, it was agreed that the offender be required to write an essay on the effects of Bullying and perform community work service by speaking to school kids about the danger of bullying in Schools. Kids will listen to another youth before they ever listen to an adult. The judge was worried that this might be damaging to the offender, but during the lunch break, the girl said she was willing and anxious to do it.
The family of Dawn Marie Wesley want above all else that some good come out of her short life and tragic death. There was much talk in the Circle about the need for self control, compassion, kindness, caring, forgiveness, patience and respect for the spirituality of one's elders in order to live "a good life".
These are not merely appropriate behaviors or arbitrary "values". They conditions of the heart: universal VIRTUES that cut across cultural differences. It has been said that the longest distance is the 18 inches for a belief to move from the head to the heart.
I believe that it is essential that the public school system support and encourage parents' efforts to develop good character and instill Virtues among children. As Michelle Borba stated at the recent conference sponsored by our Administrators Association: "the climate and culture of our schools is a good indicator of where society is headed".
By encouraging the universally accepted Virtues of self control, compassion, kindness, caring, forgiveness, patience, and respect for the teaching of the elders, we can increase the likelihood that our world will be a safer, peaceful and more prosperous Community.
The most moving scene of the Circle, was when the offending girl's grandfather took her hand and led her across the circle to tearfully face the victim's mother and ask forgiveness. The mother offered support and friendship. Then they embraced each other. One NEVER sees that in a Courtroom!
Barry Neufeld, Youth PO, Abbotsford & School Trustee Chilliwack School District #33
M.C.F.D. community governance
I have done a bit more research since the B.C.P.O.A. and I think I have a better handle on this. Institutions which are operated by the B.C. Government at present, like The Maples, Youth Custody Institutions and J.S.C. Inpatient Assessment Unit will remain in Government.
There will be 5 Regional Authorities developed to administer the rest of M.C.F.D. staff, programs and resources. Each region will have three divisions. One division will be made up of Social Workers, Youth Probation Officers and Youth Mental Health Clinicians. The second division is Adult Community Living and the third, which, if I understand this correctly, will form part of the governance of the first two, based on proportion of client population, is First Nations.
Province wide First nations will account for approximately 40 % of the Regional Authorities. It is unclear how Youth Probation staff and resources will be deployed in any of the regions. The demographics of the Region and the needs of the community will be the primary concern. It is possible that if there is enough First Nations youth probationers in a given community that a Probation Officer might work directly for the Band either as an employee, in a seconded position or possibly as an employee of the Regional Authority with a mixed caseload.
Regional Authorities will happen. How Youth Probation Fits into them may still be open for discussion.
This change comes with a lot of questions.
Probation Officers as Professionals
Contracted Residential attendance programs are currently Provincial resources. Will this be a continuing commitment of Regional Authorities? Will Regional Authorities fund youths to travel to another region and pay the receiving region?
What will happen to Provincial secondments and opportunities? Will Poís be able to transfer freely from region to region with their seniority and pension intact? Will there be an even playing field or will special consideration be given to in region applicants on competitions?
Probation Officers are officers of the Court. They must be able to make recommendations to the court without regard to outside influence. How will we continue to do this when our new managers and employer may have no clear understanding of our role and tradition?
We need to be able to advocate for our Probationers even if it goes against the status quo. Will we be able to push for a 16 or 17 yr. old sex offender or mentally disordered offender to go into foster care if we feel it is necessary when our regional authority is watching its budget. Will our supervisors tell us to drop the idea? How will we maintain our independence?
Thinking about things like this makes me realize how much I appreciate having the B.C.P.O.A. to address these issues.
SAFETY ON THE INTERNET-
Darlene Jamieson (chair of the STOP Committee)
On March 5 2002, the STOP Child and Youth Sexual Exploitation Community Action Team offered an evening community forum on Internet Safety for Awareness Week. The evening included a performance by TCO2 (Community Prevention Programs formerly with the Attorney General and now Community and Public Safety with the Solicitor General. We also had presentation from Merlyn Horton, with SOLO or Safe Online Outreach.www.safeonlineoutreach.org. Meryln is also very active in the Abbotsford or Fraser Valley Community Action Team.
The Safe Online Outreach (SOLO) Project has been developed to address the emerging issue of sexual exploitation of youth on the Internet. Grounded in the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of the Child, SOLO's goal is to create educational material for professionals who serve children and youth and make them aware of the risks to young people on the Internet.
The rapid introduction and wide spread use of the Internet by youth and predators, has created a knowledge gap in youth-serving professionals that must be addressed quickly. Adults with a sexual interest in children have long been active on the Internet in chat rooms and newsgroups. Consultations with experts in the fields of law enforcement, youth work, and communications have revealed that the issue of online commercial sexual exploitation is not adequately understood nor addressed by present youth-serving professionals. SOLO creates materials and delivers workshops that will train police officers, teachers, social workers and crisis response workers how to recognize and respond to online sexual exploitation and assist children and youth affected by this issue.
Solo develops specific curriculum for youth-serving professionals in the law enforcement, educational, social service and crisis response fields. The first pilot training is taking place in the Lower Mainland and Greater Vancouver in the fall of 2002. Email email@example.com. Perhaps your organization or group would like a presentation on Internet Safety. SOLO offers a number of Internet links to various sites including:
Justice Foundation Canada
Media Awareness Network Web Awareness
Another presenter at our STOP internet forum was Doug Stead. Doug is the president of Tri-M Engineering. He is a local businessman who very committed to the issue of internet safety. Doug invited Merlyn and I to attend a quarterly meeting of The Society for the Policing of Cyberspace (POLCYB). Doug is a Director of this organization. Meryln and I have joined the association. POLCYB was incorporated as a not-for-profit society in June 1999. It is based in British Columbia, Canada, with the goal to enhance international partnerships among public and private professionals to prevent and combat crimes in cyberspace. The website iswww.polcyb.org. Coming events include: a Quarterly meeting in Richmond on September 9, 2002 and an International Conference in November 2-5, 2002. Check out the website for details. The speed of change in cyberspace is daunting. There is an urgent need for practitioners in the criminal justice and corporate sectors to share knowledge, identify issues, and develop networks to ensure security and integrity of cyberspace. An international forum can facilitate inter-disciplinary practitioners to further explore the critical issues emerging from the use and abuse of cyberspace.
Goals-To enhance and develop global partnerships to prevent and combat cyberspace crimes. To establish a permanent Network for international criminal justice and corporate sectors to share knowledge, information, and resources to prevent and combat cyberspace crimes.
Why become a professional member? You could connect and share ideas with other international professionals to identify emerging trend and resources to combat cyber crime
Professional membership options
Public Sector-Government Agencies, Educational Institutions, Non-Profit Societies
Private Sector-You are currently working in law enforcement, corporate security, information management/security, academics or other related sectors.
To receive a POLCYB Membership Application, please complete the Request Form. New applicants are required to provide 2 references from existing POLCYB members or Directors. If you have any questions, please contact us for further information.
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I am writing to you to congratulate you and thank you for a very enjoyable and successful Annual General Meeting, which you and the Executive put on last month here in Penticton Please extend my thanks to the other members who worked on the arrangements. It was a FINE duel
I was really invigorated by the excellent speakers and it reminded me how nice it is to get some academic information which applies to our work. With all the cut backs of recent years, the Branch has not been able to provide as much staff development as they have in years past. So the Association is filling an important gap, in my view. Although you will likely consider me biased, the location at the Penticton Lakeside was a great choice, offering really comfortable space and a very restful pleasant atmosphere. It was great to see old friends and meet new friends, another important function of the Association in my view. I learned just as much about what was happening with other offices and youth probation as I did from the speakers!
You and the executive members deserve great credit for the hours of work you have all put in over the past year. I do know what effort it takes. The newsletter in particular, has been of interest to everyone in the Penticton Office and is a great means of maintaining communication between us all. Special kudos for the folks who have been doing that job.
I hope that this year will see more PO's getting involved so that the Association can undertake more projects. It would be really interesting to take advantage of the research being done by Dr. Plecus and I would certainly welcome more opportunities to get together, even Regionally, for more staff development projects and socializing. In the meantime, please let everyone know that I do appreciate all the effort, to keep the Association going and provide the opportunities for us to keep in touch with each other.
"Why am I a member of the BCPOA"?
Just prior to commencing training a favorite uncle (who was then a lawyer and later a Supreme court Judge) and a man of few words and keen humor said" Thatís a noble profession" when I informed him of my change of careers. That comment has resonated within me ever since and is what motivates me to belong to the BCPOA and support its goat of enhancing the integrity of the P.O profession. Too often budget-driven realities cause a dilution or coercion of role mandates to the point of reducing them to token functioning.
To the extent I able, I would like to try to protect and enhance the role and integrity of the profession. I feel very lucky to have inadvertently chosen (over a real love of garbage) , and I feel it critical that we educate and advocate for the preservation of our unique role in the justice system. There are tremendous societal benefits to be accrued when our respective Probation services are healthy, properly resourced and staffed by dedicated men and women.
I have been a member of the POABC since 1997. 1 originally joined as I thought it would be a good idea to be part of a professional organization that advocated specifically for my profession. Many years have passed and many changes have occurred within Government, but my desire to belong to this organization has never been stronger. The AGMs are a great way to network with past colleagues, and meet new ones. It gives us a chance to share ideas and experiences and you get validated on the difficult work we do. Although our membership has been small since I joined, we have an experienced group of probation officers who have so much to offer in addition to being a lot of fun to party with!!!! I originally started as a member, two years later began working on an editorial board for the newsletter, and now am on the Executive as a Treasurer!! The possibilities are endless!!!! All the best...
"Why am I a member of the BCPOA": For me the BCPOA is a forum for the professional concerns for PO's which does not otherwise exist. The strength of the Association lies in its ability to speak directly to government on issues of concern to its members. The Association also supports its members through training sessions held at the A.G.M. and through communications such as the newsletter. I often hear the question, "What is in it for me?". I think the better question is: "what can I contribute?". Even only going as far a paying the annual membership fee of $40 is making a contribution and folks that is cheap compared to other associations (and its tax deductible). For those who enjoy socializing (and partying) I almost forgot to mention the really great times to be had at the A.G.M.
This profession is populated by dedicated, helpful, knowledgeable, personable and very funny people. The colleagues that I have had the great pleasure to meet and work with have always amazed me with their professionalism and their dedication. I see tireless people doing very difficult work with very needy clients and I am always impressed and moved. I often think we are the least known profession, in terms of public perception, and perhaps that is in some ways, a good thing. No one expects us to do things beyond our job, we quietly (mostly) carry on and act with independence, confidence and always advocates for the people we serve - the client and the community.
The BCPOA is an organization that exists to add support, training and identity to this group. It provides an annual retreat to get together, start and spread those important rumors <grin>, to enjoy each other's company and to learn some new skills or brush up on some we have left behind in our busy-ness at work. The BCPOA has an executive board of volunteer probation officers (adult and youth) who donate their time, money and energy to make sure the organization stays afloat and to ensure that annual get togethers exist for our mutual benefit. I am moved by the efforts of my colleagues and I am proud to sit at the table with them as we struggle with issues of the day.
I have spent quality time on committees, met with managers, researched and drafted a manual for "survival" for probation officers and family justice workers, attended meetings and phone conferences. The highlight for me has been the comradery and friendships - the very important relationships with amazing people - people who do the work you do, every day, somewhere else.
Please join me in the support of the BCPOA. Join in the support of your colleagues and the future success of your profession. Send in your membership, get involved in committee work that interests you. Attend the annual general meeting and training sessions. I know you will see what I have, I know you will be moved by the experience and I know you will wonder why you didn't do it sooner!!!!
Hope to see you next Spring at the AGM.
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