Improving PAC reports through Mana Wāhine Pathway

Canterbury Lead Service Manager Sue van Voorst remembers her time as a new probation officer writing Provision of Advice to Court (PAC) reports.  “I asked all the questions in the PAC booklet in a very robotic way,” she recalls.

“A more experienced PO will use the questions as prompts and have a more normal chat. By incorporating Hōkai Rangi, and the women’s strategy into these conversations, we know that there’s a whole lot of stuff to be thinking about that the PAC booklet doesn’t cover.”

Sue is part of a team working on a prototype as part of Te Mana Wāhine pathway to improve PAC reports in line with the Māori Pathways kaupapa.  Te Mana Wāhine pathway is series of initiatives designed in partnership with Māori to build better outcomes for Māori women in the Corrections system based on kaupapa Māori and whānau centred approaches.

The prototype involves working intensely with a small selection of women to reflect their pathway more fully in their PAC reports.

The team started working with two women in July – one who was on bail and one who was on remand in Christchurch Women’s Prison.  The women met with their probation officers who are part of the team working on the prototype to improve PAC reports.

Hine* who was on bail, has been imprisoned before – it’s been like a revolving door for her.  The challenge for the department is to include and involve her in the discussion. The kaupapa of Te Mana Wāhine Pathway allows us to prototype and test and bring this into practice.

“What we have done in the past hasn’t worked, so we talked with her about her history, about Te Mana Wāhine pathway, what that might look like for her, and who would be involved. She was fully on board so we wrote the PAC based on that,” says Sue.

When the first draft of the PAC report was written it was brought to the Mana Wāhine Pathway prototype group to discuss.

“We were able to look at where the gaps were and how we could fill those gaps. When we make our recommendations to the Court, it comes with a clear plan on what her pathway journey would look like, what programmes she would do and when, and how her whānau would be involved. One of the aims for the pathway is to tautoko and manaaki the women to change their lives for the better,” Sue says.

Hine has multiple needs so the PAC recommendation was for an Intensive Supervision sentence with several conditions, which is what she received.

“We are still in the early stages of prototyping but the signs look promising. She is engaging with her probation officer, and her sentence, in a way that she has not previously done.”

Hine reports weekly to Ngā Hau e Wha Marae where Corrections has a reporting centre. It works well at several levels as the marae is also a base for Whānau Ora navigators, medical and other wraparound services.  The second woman the team started working with involved some different challenges.

“We have had some issues, largely to do with trust. That’s OK. No two women are the same, and as we prototype how to incorporate their pathway into the PAC report, it’s important that we are able to be flexible and develop the tools to help rather than exact rules. Over the next two months the team will start to work with two more women and more will follow after that.

The pathway service design team who oversee all of the prototypes are recording progress so that it can be well assessed, and recommendations made on how the PAC report process can be improved to support better outcomes.

“We want to be able to support all staff to be able to ask the kind of questions that will help the person get on the pathway that is right for them.  Our focus is on ensuring it is right for wāhine Māori, but we think changes we suggest will contribute to working with all people,” Sue says.

*Not her real name