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Issue No. 410 February 2017

Students for prevention

Wellington District is deepening its engagement with its booming student population through an International Student Ambassador programme.

The programme – based on the successful model launched in Auckland in 2014 - is a collaboration with five education providers: Queen Margaret College, Whitireia, WelTec, Massey University and Victoria University of Wellington.

Sergeant Phil Pithyou, right, and ambassadors at the programme launch.

Wellington has a stated desire to almost double its intake of overseas students to 12,000, bringing an influx of potentially vulnerable young people.

The Wellington programme will see up to 30 students trained to help prevent crime and victimisation, taking Police messages to student communities and reporting back on issues.

They attend monthly meetings during the academic year and may have other training, such as first aid.

District Ethnic Liaison Coordinator Sergeant Phil Pithyou, who oversees the programme, says international students face problems above and beyond those faced by others.

“If they don’t feel at home in the local culture or with speaking English, they may suffer feelings of isolation or depression,” he says.

“They may feel stressed by the burden of parental expectations. Without the guidance and constraints of having family close by, it’s easier for them to make mistakes.

“As a population, they’re more vulnerable to crimes such as burglary or fraud, and the barriers of culture and language make them harder to reach and less likely to know where to go for help.”

The programme launched late last year. As well as looking good on a CV – and some Auckland participants have gone on to Police careers – Phil says ambassadors make a real contribution to the community.

“That sense of making a contribution can be very personally fulfilling.”

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