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Psychologist needed for Arorangi prison

Monday February 05, 2018 Written by Published in Local
The prison in Arorangi where Chris Rimamotu was an inmate. 16072723 The prison in Arorangi where Chris Rimamotu was an inmate. 16072723

In the wake of a tragic shooting incident on Rarotonga two years ago which left three people dead, the health ministry is to hire a clinical psychologist to assess the mental health of prisoners at Arorangi Prison.


The deadline for expressions of interest in the position expired on February 2.

A report by former Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Denis McDermott and retired Cook Islands Police Commissioner Tevai Matapo, following their inquiry into the incident, recommended the employment of a clinical psychologist to offer support and assistance to the justice ministry and the Cook Islands Police Service.

It said the person appointed should also be responsible for delivery of health ministry services to the prison.

The psychologist will be responsible for re-evaluating and overhauling how the mental health of prisoners is assessed and treated in this country.

The health ministry says prisoners considered at risk or likely to reoffend, and who are likely to be suffering from poor mental health, will be treated with the highest priority. They will be given appropriate treatment or helped through rehabilitation programmes to be developed by the clinical psychologist.

The psychologist would also be expected to provide expert advice or witness to the court or parole board, and contribute to policy and strategy development related to mental health in the Cook Islands.

The position was advertised as being for 12 months, with the possibility of an extension.

McDermott and Matapo spent months on their inquiry, which found the shooting incident was “preventable”.

The former top police officers looked into aspects of the acts of violence committed by Chris Rimamotu that resulted in the deaths of Maryanne Dean and Roger Tauarea, and ultimately escaped prisoner Rimamotu himself.  They also took a hard look at the actions of the Cook Islands Police Service and the Ministry of Justice, and conditions within the prison.

Of the 47 recommendations in the report, seven required substantial funding, while others could be implemented fairly easily.

The recommendations were said to be designed to “bring about significant improvements in the security environment and make the Cook Islands a safer place”.

            - CL/Release

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