As Corrections frontline staff will tell you, the needs of women and their pathways to offending are different from those of men. These differences have led to a large number of changes aimed at making our services more engaging, supportive and safe for women and, where appropriate, more inclusive of their whānau.
Through Te Mana Wāhine Pathway, a co-design project has been underway for the past 18 months involving Corrections staff, mana whenua, iwi and community representatives and women with lived experience of our services.
With a focus on humanising and healing, the Southern Region has implemented wide-ranging initiatives aimed at removing the relationship barriers and, where possible, working alongside the women on their journey.
One of the first projects in Christchurch Women’s Prison was an overhaul of the visits area, making it a more welcoming and friendly space for whānau to meet. This concept has for the first time made its leap into the community space, with the creation of a Whānau room at Rangiora Community Corrections.
Led by Probation Officer Lisa O’Connell, a member of the Mana Wāhine team in the community, Lisa has taken on the task of turning the back room into a whānau space, where women will be able to bring their children to their report-in with their Probation Officer, once we are back in Alert Level 1.
Lisa says Rangiora staff are pleased to have a calm space available for women and where children can play safely while their mothers engage with staff.
This is what the Mana Wāhine team hope will be the first of many opportunities to soften our environments and encourage trust between people on sentence in the community and their Probation Officer.
“Lisa has created a welcoming space, if women bring children with them, and it looks amazing,” says Mana Wāhine Project Lead – Te Wai Pounamu, Lesley Herbert.
Lesley says further initiatives are underway across the Canterbury District with a specialised Mana Wāhine team based at the new Canterbury East side site on Stanmore Road.
“It is more common for women to be affected by trauma and victimisation, mental health issues, unhealthy relationships, parenting difficulty and stress, and financial pressures,” says Lesley.
“This team will focus on the needs of women and be especially chosen, trained and supported for this mahi. That will mean a complete focus on their successful transition / rehabilitation back into the community.
“That has to be good for these women and their tamariki and help ensure that we break the intergenerational loop.”
NOTE: The whānau room has been closed temporarily and will reopen at COVID-19 Alert Level 1.
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The Mana Wāhine team aims to make our services more engaging, supportive and safe for women.
Softening our environments can encourage trust between people on sentence in the community and their Probation Officer.
The Whānau room is a calm space where children can play safely while their mothers engage with staff.
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