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Innovative developments at AUT University in Auckland

Belinda Nash - 22/09/06

A Restorative Justice Centre, a Health$tylz "Gaining Wealth thru Health" programme and a business course especially designed for Vodafone Warriors players - these are only some of the innovative features at AUT University in Auckland.

Restorative Justice Centre

New Zealand's first tertiary centre specialising in restorative justice matters was launched at AUT University by the Governor-General, His Excellency Anand Satyanand, on Friday, September 15.

The Restorative Justice Centre, based at AUT's Institute of Public Policy, will be a multi-disciplinary centre of excellence for training, education and research into restorative justice theory and practice.

The centre chair is Professor Ian Shirley, Institute of Public Policy director and AUT's Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research), and the deputy chair is District Court Judge and restorative justice proponent Fred McElrea.

Professor Shirley says the centre's role will extend beyond the criminal justice sector to include the study and development of restorative practices in different settings.

"As well as general studies, the Restorative Justice Centre will offer specialist units to cater for such sectors as restorative conferencing facilitators, youth justice coordinators and school administrators.

"The centre will also provide a focus for the growing restorative justice community within New Zealand and internationally. It will sponsor publications, conferences and other events to further the interests of that community."

Judge McElrea says restorative justice in this context is an approach to conflict resolution which treats offending as a breach of human relationships.

"It seeks the active participation of those most affected - victims, offenders, families and community - in finding solutions to conflict. It identifies the harms caused by offending, seeks ways to redress this damage and attends to the needs of victims as well as supporting the rehabilitation of offenders."

Initially, the centre will focus on the need in New Zealand for reputable practical and academic teaching of restorative skills and theory - for those already working in the field and those keen to do so.

The centre will also consider restorative justice in the international context and will work with other centres of learning and research, both nationally and overseas.

The framework of the Restorative Justice Centre has been developed by a broad-based coalition of interests including members of the judiciary, strategic government departments, academia, agencies in the voluntary and non-government sectors and practitioners with a track record in restorative justice.

A centre manager will be appointed soon and a new website launched. The first courses are scheduled to start next year.

Healthy eating + a moneywise attitude = Health$tylz

Low income families in south Auckland with primary school children are being mentored on how to gain wealth through health.

Health$tylz is a six-week 'Gaining Wealth thru Health' campaign pilot programme which links a team of health experts with volunteer families. Dietitians, a doctor, nurses and counsellors work with the families to educate them in budget-conscious shopping and nutritional eating.

The project has been created by AUT University's Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE AUT) from the AUT Business School.

The Health$tylz programme includes two workshops, now completed, followed by a four-week period where participants follow a Five Star eating and shopping programme. Pre and post tests will measure the success of the project.

SIFE AUT project development manager and business student Emma Larsson says it's a myth that maintaining a healthy lifestyle costs a lot of money.

"Healthy eating shouldn't be expensive. A whole family can be fed a nutritious meal for the cost of just one takeaway. This project evolved because we want Kiwi kids to have a nutrition-rich diet so they can live a full and active life."

A group watch with interest as a healthy recipe is demonstrated.
A group watch with interest as a healthy recipe is demonstrated.

Click here to view a larger version

At the first workshop, two guest speakers from the University of Otago Dietetic Training Programme discussed the food pyramid, portion sizes and healthy meal options. At the second two different dietitians advised on how to reduce fats and sugars in the diet and the merits of increasing fruit, vegetables and fibre intake.

Emma says one of the participants said her son had changed his diet in the short time between the two workshops.

"He went from eating only popcorn, some fruit and snack foods to including sandwiches in his school lunch," she says. "Now he is asking his mum for healthy food at home, showing it has been a good learning curve for both adults and kids on the programme."

She says by the end of the second workshop, participants left with a positive outlook and wanting to implement what they had learned.

The Health$tylz team includes six AUT business students, a network of dietitians and a nurse from AUT's Health, Counselling and Wellbeing, Dr Fay Clark from the Family and Christian Health Centre, Otara, and AUT University Pasifika liaison manager Ronji Tanielu.

Ronji says the initiative is innovative and exciting and provides a framework for involving otherwise disconnected Auckland communities.

"It's connecting AUT and its students with families and communities in a very real, positive and effective way."

No play means other work for Vodafone Warriors

The season might be over for the Vodafone Warriors, but five-eighth Jerome Ropati and halfback Grant Rovelli are not kicking back ­ they're using down time to study for a graduate diploma in business at AUT University.

Grant Rovelli Jerome Ropati
Grant Rovelli

Jerome Ropati

The players join fellow team mates and business students Louis Anderson, Todd Bryne, Nathan Fien, Micheal Luck and Simon Mannering as well as league icon and Warriors development coach, Tony Iro.

The two-year business diploma programme is modelled on an accelerated learning format with papers being taught to fit in with the Warriors' demanding training schedule.

AUT lecturers take classes to the Vodafone Warriors at their home ground, Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland.

AUT's newest business students have just completed their first paper in Marketing Principles. Jerome says this course has helped him understand the players' role in brand marketing for the Warriors.

"We've looked at how people perceive us ­ the public, the media, and shareholders ­ and it has helped us manage how we act."

Team mate Grant Rovelli says studying at AUT gives the players another dimension outside league.

"We tend to play better when we have something else to think about," he says. "It gives us a different perspective on how the organisation works and our role in it. We see a picture of the real world and get a look at our options outside career footie."

Grant says he gets huge personal satisfaction by studying.

"It's great that management have set this partnership up and given us the opportunity to study for a university qualification."

Senior advertising and marketing lecturer Russell Harray says the flexibility of classes is working well.

"They're a great bunch to work with and have a good idea of how marketing and business concepts work in real life," he says. "The online discussions and the test results to date show excellent progress, with some students getting close to 100% results."

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