Evidence based and culturally responsive practice

At the heart of the Department’s approach to rehabilitation is the Risk, Needs, Responsivity (RNR) Model. This model provides the framework for our offence focused rehabilitative programmes as well as probation and case management practice. The effectiveness of this evidence-based approach is borne out in the Department’s annual rehabilitation quotient results which show that people who complete our offence-focused treatment are less likely to re-offend. Central to good completion rates is effective engagement by Corrections staff with the people under our management. This means we must ensure our programmes support the cultural needs of the participants, as a culturally responsive approach supports the therapeutic relationship and helps participants engage.

Cultural responsiveness is a key theme in the current journal. Ana Ngamoki, in her article on Te Ara Tauwhaiti, outlines a Kaupapa Māori supervision pathway for programme facilitators. This article provides a strong tikanga based supervisory framework which has recently been embedded across all four regions. A strong model of Kaupapa Māori supervision serves to enhance practice and therefore enhance treatment outcomes.  These outcomes are the focus of Peter Johnston’s article which outlines the positive impact of our key programmes for Māori. Bronwyn Castell, Glen Kilgour and Armon Tamatea’s article also provides some qualitative evidence of the positive impact psychological treatment programmes have in meeting the needs of Māori. Annalisa Hughes’ article on more general cultural interventions highlights the importance of using the RNR framework interwoven with tikanga-based approaches if the focus is to reduce re-offending.

We have a particular responsibility to meet the cultural needs of Māori as Te Tiriti partners, however responsiveness includes meeting the needs of other potentially vulnerable groups such as women, youth, or those experiencing psychological distress. There are a number of  notable articles focusing on work governed by the Women’s Strategy. These reflect our recent concerted effort to develop and tailor programmes and approaches to meet the unique needs of women.

The article on the family violence perpetrator study by Bronwyn Morrison and Marianne Bevan and the article by Victoria Nicholson on Family Violence Joint Commissioning reflect the importance of taking responsiveness a step further. These articles are useful additions to the family violence space and highlight the importance of taking a more whānau-centric approach to this work. Bronwyn and Marianne’s research contributes positively to a fairly meagre body of knowledge about family violence perpetrator characteristics.

A well-considered transition out of both formal rehabilitation and Corrections management is pivotal for effective re-entry into society. Activities such as employment, accommodation and education have a cumulative impact on reducing re-offending following offence-focused treatment. As such, the articles relating to viable accommodation options and employment opportunities provide a well-rounded focus to this journal and reinforce the importance of taking a multi-pronged approach to supporting desistance pathways. Of particular note, Shaun Goldfinch’s article provides options at multiple points in someone’s sentence and challenges us to think more widely about residential community care options.

As always, this edition has a practice note, which this time updates you on the Prison Practice Framework and the excellent work that has been done to progress this.

If you want a good five minute read and a laugh or two, go straight to Peter Johnston’s review of “Offending and Desistance”. Our other book reviewer, John Locker, gives his thoughts on the fascinatingly titled “The End of Policing” which of course does not provide the straightforward answers a title like this suggests.

There is no doubt, in this edition the reader is spoilt for choice as some of the best of the Department’s work is showcased and summarised.

Happy reading!

Dr Juanita Ryan
General Manager Psychology and Programmes/Chief Psychologist