Chatting criminal justice with Dr Helen Farley

Considering a career in the justice sector? Learn more about what you can expect from UC's Director of Criminal Justice.

Associate Professor Dr Helen Farley is the Director of Criminal Justice at Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury, where she has played a large part in developing our online Certificate in Criminal Justice.

She has a wealth of knowledge across the sector, including experience working for Ara Poutama Aotearoa | Department of Corrections; being the President of the Australasian Corrections Education Association; and part of the Expert Working Group on Technologies for Prisoner Rehabilitation for the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute. In-between her busy schedule, Helen took the time to answer our burning questions about the justice sector and what learners can get out of our Tuihono UC Certificate in Criminal Justice.

What’s interesting about working in the justice system? 

Working in criminal justice in Aotearoa New Zealand can be an enriching and fulfilling experience. The strong commitment to upholding Te Tiriti o Waitangi | the Treaty of Waitangi, adds a unique cultural dimension to the pursuit of justice, promoting inclusivity and understanding through collaboration with iwi and communities. 

The criminal justice system offers a wide array of exciting career opportunities, with various paths for growth and mobility between agencies. This flexibility allows you to explore your interests and contribute to different facets within the justice system, ensuring a rewarding and meaningful journey that positively impacts society. 

Each day brings new experiences and opportunities to make a difference while following your passions. The ever-changing landscape allows you to constantly grow, building a diverse skill set and gaining a comprehensive understanding of different aspects of the justice system. Your accumulated experience becomes a valuable tool that enriches your impact and contributes to creating a more just and harmonious society. Embrace the journey and be part of shaping a brighter future for Aotearoa New Zealand. 

How can the online Certificate in Criminal Justice help learners advance or enter into the justice sector? 

The Certificate of Criminal Justice offers a remarkable opportunity for individuals both within and outside the justice sector. For those in allied professions, this programme provides a clear pathway to enter the justice sector with specialised knowledge and skills. Whether you come from psychology, social work, or legal services, the certificate equips you with a solid foundation in criminal justice principles, procedures, and practices, making you a valuable asset in various roles within the sector. 

Meanwhile, for professionals already working in the justice sector, this certificate serves as a catalyst for career advancement. By deepening your understanding of the criminal justice system, you'll be well-prepared to take on more challenging and higher-responsibility positions. Whether you aspire to move into supervisory roles, research and policy development, or specialised fields like forensics or rehabilitation, the Certificate of Criminal Justice enhances your credentials and showcases your dedication to continuous professional growth. 

Moreover, the programme facilitates networking opportunities and collaboration among learners from diverse backgrounds. Engaging with peers and instructors creates valuable connections within the justice sector, expanding your professional network and opening doors to potential professional opportunities. 

For people wanting to work in one specific organisation, like the New Zealand Police, why do they need a holistic understanding of the criminal justice system? 

A holistic understanding of the criminal justice system is vital if you aspire to diversify your work within criminal justice. A comprehensive knowledge allows you to function effectively within your current role and contribute meaningfully to the larger objectives of the criminal justice system.  

By grasping how various components of the system interact and collaborate, including the courts, corrections, NGOs, and police, you can build smoother communication channels and foster better collaboration. This, in turn, enables contextual decision-making, where you consider broader implications, uphold individual rights, and promote justice in interventions.  

Moreover, a holistic perspective empowers you to identify and address systemic issues, advocate for necessary reforms, and work towards a more equitable justice system. As you resolve complex challenges and navigate the system, this comprehensive understanding becomes a valuable asset, ensuring you can collaborate effectively with other agencies to tackle emerging issues.    

Dr Helen Farley


How have you worked with the justice sector and industry professionals on this certificate? 

In developing the Certificate of Criminal Justice, we have fostered a strong collaborative relationship with the justice sector agencies and the professionals within them to ensure the programme's excellence. Consulting extensively with agencies, we have diligently gathered insights to understand their specific needs and expectations from graduates. This valuable input has been instrumental in shaping the content and curriculum, ensuring that learners acquire the essential skills and knowledge required for real-world challenges. 

To provide a dynamic learning experience, we have engaged criminal justice professionals as guest lecturers. Their expertise and practical experiences enrich the programme, offering unique perspectives and inspiring learners to excel in their chosen careers. 

Moreover, working closely with agencies has allowed us to craft a programme that aligns with industry demands. Our ongoing collaboration with the sector and professionals ensures that the Certificate of Criminal Justice remains relevant and up-to-date. By staying connected with the justice community, we continuously refine the program, equipping our graduates with the latest insights and best practices to thrive in the dynamic and impactful realm of criminal justice. 

What attributes should students wanting to undertake this certificate have? 

If you are seeking to undertake the Certificate of Criminal Justice, it is essential to embody a genuine desire to make a positive difference in society. Empathy and compassion will be crucial as you'll be dealing with diverse individuals, some of whom may have experienced hardship or trauma. Upholding integrity and ethical conduct is a must, as the justice sector demands individuals who prioritise fairness and act with honesty in all aspects of their work. 

To thrive in this field, you will need strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills to analyse complex situations and make well-informed decisions. Additionally, effective communication skills are equally important, as professionals in the criminal justice system must engage with various stakeholders, including colleagues, witnesses, and the public, with clarity and empathy. 

Being resilient and adaptable are valuable qualities, as the justice sector can be emotionally demanding and subject to constant change. Prepare yourself to navigate challenges with determination and flexibility, as this will be essential for your success in the programme and the dynamic world of criminal justice. Embrace these attributes, and you'll be well-equipped to excel and make a meaningful contribution to society through your work in the justice sector. 

Te Tiriti o Waitangi | the Treaty of Waitangi is a cornerstone of Aotearoa New Zealand's legal framework, and you should be prepared to honour its principles of partnership, participation, and protection. By recognising the historical and ongoing significance of the treaty, you can actively contribute to promoting equitable outcomes and fostering positive engagement between the justice system and Māori communities. Embracing bicultural competence and upholding the Treaty of Waitangi principles will be instrumental in creating a more just and harmonious society for all New Zealanders. 

Ready to take the next step towards a career in the justice sector? You can learn more about our online Certificate in Criminal Justice online here.  

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