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Giving a voice to the women at Arohata

30 November 2021
Arohata mural v2

Women at Arohata Prison are having their say at Wāhine Runanga.

Runanga, meaning council or assembly, is held with a rōpū of seven women from each unit and prison management.

“The intent is to listen and gain an understanding of what is going on for the women in a holistic way, such as their wellbeing, improvement opportunities, and to look at how we work with each other,” says Prison Director Michael Rongo.

The site’s second Runanga was held in November with positive feedback from the women describing it as “helpful” and that they feel “listened to”.

“It’s great to have answers to what was raised at the first meeting,” say the women.

Unit representatives are selected by staff to voice the interests and feelings of the women at Runanga.

Matters raised included comfort packs on arrival, changes to the consumable list, and suggestions to improve connection with whānau.

Small changes to the environment such as flip bins placed next to the toilets for sanitary items was met with nods of approval by the women.

"With suggestions that require changes at a national level, the ‘why’ behind it needs explaining," says Michael. “Disagreeing is OK, so Runanga is about working through it. I think it’s fair to say the women were cautious and possibly guarded around how and what they wanted share, but as the conversation flowed some rich information was shared.”

Underpinning Wāhine Runanga is the Women’s Prison Network Improvement Programme which builds on existing initiatives to improve the lives of women in prison, their whānau, and our staff.

The programme takes into account the feedback and experiences of the women in our prisons to focus on developing initiatives that work specifically for women.

Read more information on the new women’s strategy

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Arohata Women's Prison