Making Aotearoa New Zealand
the best place to raise children
in flourishing families
In the past year Family Works Central has supported almost 50 women step out of the Arohata Prison gates and make positive changes in their lives.
Presbyterian Support is contracted by the Department of Corrections to offer the voluntary Out of Gate programme at women’s prisons throughout the country. At Arohata the not-for-profit organisation’s Family Works social workers meet with the women before release to talk about what support they need. On the day of release they are met by a Family Works community navigator who supports them to settle back into the community.
Family Works general manager Julia Hennessy explains the programme focuses on supporting the women to find a suitable place to live, a job or education and training, access health and wellbeing services, as well as helping them develop positive life skills and connect with whanau and community support.
“We’ve had really positive feedback from the women expressing that having the support available to them is really making a difference.”
And statistics show the programme is working. More than 90 per cent of the women who have been supported by Family Works Central have not reoffended within the first six months of being released.
“We’re really humbled to have quality locally-connected women acting as navigators to other women in the community. I think the difference is our navigators walk alongside the women during this journey – we’re not doing it for them or to them,” says Julia.
The Out of Gate programme is part of the government’s commitment to reduce reoffending in New Zealand by 25 per cent by 2017. This means 4,600 fewer offenders would return to prison and there would be 18,500 fewer victims of crime by 2017.
Julia says due to the success of the Out of Gate programme so far the Department of Corrections is further funding Family Works to offer other services to the women.
“We have been able to offer other services to the women when needed, such as counselling or parenting courses. It’s all about making sure each woman is supported in the best way possible. Whatever is right for the individual.”