Wahine e rere ana ki te pae hou – Women’s Strategy 2017-2021

“For a high proportion of women offenders their complex and entwined histories of severe trauma, mental health issues, substance abuse, unhealthy relationships and poverty have contributed to their offending.” Chief Executive Ray Smith, from Women’s Strategy 2017-2021

Wahine – E rere ana ki te pae hou - Women’s Strategy sets out a new approach for how the Corrections will manage women offenders.

Although small compared to men serving sentences, the number of women managed by Corrections (6,712 as of 30 June 2017) is increasing and this needs to be addressed. On top of this, many women who offend are primary caregivers. 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.

The new Women’s Strategy was launched at Christchurch Women’s Prison on 28 August and includes changes in the treatment and management of women offenders in New Zealand.

The reason we need a distinct approach for women is that we know they have different experiences and needs than men. Departmental research has found that:

  • relationships going wrong, lack of emotional and practical support and economic pressures shaped by their experiences are frequently triggers to women’s re-offending
  • the way women see themselves, their future prospects, and their ability to respond to problems plays a key role in their ability to stop offending
  • two-thirds of women in prison have suffered family violence, rape and/or sexual assault
  • 52% of women in prison have post-traumatic stress disorder (compared to 22% of male prisoners)
  • 68% of women in prison have been a victim of family violence
  • three-quarters of women in prison have diagnosed mental health problems.

The strategy focuses on three key areas:

  1. Providing women with interventions and services that meet their unique risks and needs.
  2. Managing women in ways that are trauma-informed and empowering.
  3. Managing women in a way that reflects the importance of relationships to women.

Good progress has already been made with the appointment of social workers and counsellors at women’s prisons, specific supported accommodation for women on EM bail and those released from prison, the pilot of a healthy relationships programme for women under 25, and the increase in delivery of women’s rehabilitation programmes.

Looking ahead, our people will be upskilled for working with women. There’ll be enhancements in the industry and education options we offer women and our programmes will be culturally responsive and women-specific, rather than just a replica of what male offenders receive.