On 21 April, Corrections acknowledged the official opening of two new residential services in Christchurch; the Odyssey House Residential service Te Whare Waimairiiri and the Salvation Army run bail house, Hereford House.
Deputy National Commissioner/HIIP Programme Director Leigh Marsh says these are both great examples of Ara Poutama Aotearoa working with key partners to strengthen our rehabilitation and reintegration services within our communities.
Te Whare Waimairiiri
Te Whare Waimairiiri is a partnership between Ara Poutama Aotearoa Corrections, HIIP (High Impact Innovation Programme), Pathway Trust and Odyssey House. The residential service was designed, developed and delivered through HIIP alongside key partners and funded through the Proceeds of Crime Funding pool.
The new eight-bed residential Alcohol and Drug service supports women who have completed AOD treatment in the criminal justice system and are working through the challenges of living a life of abstinence in the community, or are in need of respite. The flexible service offers women a stepping stone to independent living and supports them as they reconnect or strengthen connections with community support services and family.
“Women who experience the criminal justice system are often primary caregivers,” says Leigh Marsh. “If they receive the support they need to turn their own lives around, that will have a positive impact on their children, families and our communities. This service offers women the support and space to make a positive, confident transition to the community and their whānau.”
“Ara Poutama Aotearoa and the wider justice sector have come a long way in improving our understanding of the needs of the women in a Corrections setting. We are recognising that the pathway to offending, and therefore the rehabilitative and reintegrative journey of women, is different from that of men. This service has been designed to reflect the needs of women.”
Hereford House is a six-bed supported living house on the boundary of central Christchurch.
Hereford House was set up by the Housing and Support Services programme – a Budget 2018 programme to establish supported accommodation for people in the criminal justice system.
This is Canterbury’s first residential bail facility, run by the Salvation Army and developed in partnership with Ara Poutama Aotearoa Corrections and the HIIP team. The service has been successfully operating for over a year with the official opening delayed by Covid until 21 April.
Leigh says the service, similar to Puawai House in Wellington, offers a bail address for people who can safely remain in the community while they await a court date, but don’t have an appropriate bail address option, and would otherwise go to prison on remand.
“We know that when people are remanded in custody, they have fewer opportunities for rehabilitation, and we know more and more offenders are serving their entire custodial sentences on custodial remand,” says Leigh. “This can send them on a path deeper into the criminal justice system that can be hard to get off. Hereford House gives men a chance to change that trajectory.”
“The make-up of the prison population has been changing over the last decade, with the number of people remanded in custody, awaiting the outcome of their case, doubling in the last six years and custodial remand forecast to make up over half of the prison population by 2026.”
“Services like this offer an alternative path to people and give them options they wouldn’t otherwise have,” says Leigh.
Salvation Army National Operations Manager Glen Buckner says seeing the change in many of those who have been through this home has been uplifting and often life changing for residents.