New Zealand’s Six Pillar Model of reintegration and international reintegrative models: A review of the literature

Nimesha Tissera
Intern, Employment and Reintegration Team, Department of Corrections

Author biography:
In 2018 Nimesha completed her Honours degree in Psychology at Massey University and has since returned to Massey to commence a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. Her background is in Human Nutrition (BSc, University of Otago) and Psychology (PGDipSci, Victoria University). Her research interests lie in psychoeducation and mental health literacy among vulnerable groups including New Zealand adolescents.


Reintegrative interventions address a range of challenges experienced by individuals completing a community or prison sentence. These challenges relate to housing, health, finances, employment and education amongst others. Individuals are particularly vulnerable to re-offending as their sentences end and there can be a complex interplay between the range of challenges (Weaver, 2015). Reintegrative practice is, therefore, a critical area internationally which aims to support individuals through this difficult transition period in order to lead healthier crime-free lives. According to the Department of Corrections, “an individual is said to have successfully transitioned when they remain crime-free and settle into the wider community with prosocial, constructive attitudes and behaviours” (Department of Corrections, 2018).

It is widely acknowledged that effective planning is required to facilitate successful reintegration (Taxman & Kras, 2016). However, the nature and implementation of various reintegration models differs internationally (Thompson, 2003; Travis, 2005). Furthermore, no universal gold standard model of reintegration currently exists because “what works” in one area may be less relevant in another. Although research into reintegration is relatively recent when compared to rehabilitative research, many countries focus on a series of common factors implicit in the available evidence. These factors are reviewed along with the similarities and differences among the models of reintegration implemented by New Zealand (NZ), Australia, Canada, England, Wales, Ireland and Norway.

The aim of this literature review was to explore and compare the key factors in international models of reintegration/re-entry to ensure that Corrections’ practice is in line with international best practice. The scope of this review did not include the extent to which reintegrative models were successful or the extent to which each model is implemented in practice. However, remaining knowledgeable of current international standards is good practice as this assists in understanding relevant patterns and themes which can be evaluated in order to inform best practice in NZ.

The ‘what works’ literature – a summary of the evidence on reintegrative practice

The factors consistently recognised as obstacles to successful reintegration include: 1) accommodation, 2) employment, 3) education, 4) physical and mental health, 5) attitudes and self-control, 6) institutionalisation and life-skills, 7) financial and debt and 8) family networks (Graffam, Shinkfield, Lavelle, & McPherson, 2004; Petersilia, 2003;2004; Social Exclusion Unit, 2002; Willis & Grace, 2008). However, among recent qualitative interviews regarding re-entry, “types of friends” was perceived to be a strong predictor of reintegrative success according to American inmates (Davis, Bahr & Ward, 2013). This finding is consistent with research that confirms that associating with antisocial or deviant peers is likely to maintain criminal activity (Katsiyannis, Whitford, Zhang & Gage, 2018). Moreover, recent research supports “social capital” as a critical contributor to reintegrative success; social capital can be defined as the support inherent in having prosocial networks (Favors, 2018; Gilbert & Elley, 2015). Social capital can come from being involved with family or various prosocial community groups; however, mentorship appears to be a popular and effective form of social capital (Brand, 2016; Favors, 2018; Fox, Khan, Briggs, Rees-Jones, Thompson & Owens, 2005; Gilbert & Elley, 2015). Substance abuse is also recognised as a predictor of recidivism among those transitioning from prison back into the community and thus presents as a major barrier to successful reintegration (Jason, Olson, & Foli, 2014).

A meta-analysis focusing on successful re-entry programmes identified that reintegrative interventions were more likely to be successful if initiated before release from prison and continued in the community after release (Ndrecka 2014). The programmes which lasted longer than 13 weeks and had a client-specific focus (tailored to the individual) were also found to be most useful for effective rehabilitation and reintegration (Ndrecka 2014).

The Six Pillar Model of Reintegration - New Zealand

New Zealand employs a model of reintegration called “The Six Pillars of Reintegration” which aligns with the “what works” evidence base. These six pillars identify areas of intervention that are acknowledged to facilitate successful reintegration and lower the risk of re-offending (Ministry of Justice, 2016):

1) Accommodation

2) Oranga/Wellbeing

3) Family/Whānau/Community support

4) Education and Training

5) Employment

6) Skills for life.

New Zealand’s channel of service delivery for reintegrative services is external. The Department of Corrections currently manages over 40 relationships with community organisations and service providers which carry out a range of services based upon the Six Pillar Model for those leaving prison. The current services range from light touch navigational services such as “Out of Gate” and the Reintegration Support Service offered by the Prisoners Aid and Reintegration Society Inc (PARS) through to more intensive support that includes employment and accommodation.

International models of reintegration

Reintegrative practices by correctional services are influenced by a number of factors including the political, social and cultural climate of the country, and it is important to note such influences when comparing and contrasting models of reintegration. Much of the recent international literature regarding reintegration has focused upon identifying the unique needs of specific groups of individuals in custody and catering to their risk level and offence type, or it has focused on the cultural contexts of an individual including gender, ethnicity, age and exposure to various environments (e.g. war or gang environments). It is also relevant to note that within countries and states, many prisons and correctional facilities have developed their own models or frameworks based on wider state and/or national initiatives. Each reintegrative approach is summarised in Table 1.

Table 1: International Models of Reintegration


Model components


  • Accommodation
  • Cognitive skills and attitudes
  • Drug and alcohol issues
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Mental health
  • Social networks

England and Wales

  • Accommodation
  • Attitudes, thinking and behaviour
  • Being a sex worker
  • Being a victim of domestic abuse
  • Children and families
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Education, Training and Employment
  • Finance, benefit and debt
  • Health


  • Accommodation
  • Addiction
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Family and community support
  • Mental health

New Zealand

  • Accommodation
  • Education and Training
  • Employment
  • Family/Whānau/Community support
  • Oranga/Wellbeing
  • Skills for life


  • Accommodation
  • Addiction treatment
  • Culture and religion
  • Debt counselling
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Healthcare

Victoria, Australia

  • Community and family connectedness
  • Drug and Alcohol
  • Education and Training
  • Employment
  • Housing
  • Independent living skills
  • Mental Health

Western Australia

  • Attitudes and social   control
  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Family and community   networks
  • Financial support and   debt
  • Housing
  • Institutionalisation   and life skills
  • Mental and physical   health
  • Other prescribed   factors

International themes and trends

Although there was a consensus regarding the components worthy of inclusion in a reintegration model, minor differences in how these were named were observed (e.g. housing vs. accommodation and drug and alcohol issues vs. addiction). Each model also included components which varied in breadth and detail; that is, while some countries had simpler models, others chose to break down and label further dimensions. The literature suggests that having less broad categories may remove ambiguity and personal interpretations of what is deemed fit for practice (Bernburg, 2009; Office of Behavioural and Social Sciences Research, 2018; Wardhaugh, 2011).

It was found that all countries included components related to accommodation, education and employment in their models of reintegration. All countries except Norway also highlighted the importance of social networks, including family, prosocial peers and/or the community. The most obvious difference between the New Zealand Six Pillar Model and other models was how health and wellbeing aspects were categorised. All countries included a separate component regarding drug and alcohol issues and most also included a discrete mental health category while New Zealand’s approach encapsulates both mental health and substance abuse issues among cultural and spiritual factors under the broader “Oranga/Wellbeing” category.

England and Wales demonstrate a deeper level of complexity in their Through the Gate model compared to the other models as it considers an individual’s experience of other potential threats to successful reintegration such as domestic violence and sex work (Criminal Justice Joint Inspection, 2017; HM Inspectorate of Probation, 2016). These two categories were included in consideration of the specific challenges that women were frequently facing upon returning to their communities. The Criminal Justice Joint Inspection (2017) and HM Inspectorate of Probation (2016) emphasise the barriers to successful reintegration that domestic violence and sex work pose. However, due to a series of issues regarding implementation, Through the Gate was deemed ineffective by the Criminal Justice Joint Inspection (2017). However, further evaluations of the initiative are underway.

Cultural responsivity

Of the countries investigated, it is apparent that New Zealand’s Six Pillar Model of reintegration is the only approach which incorporates indigenous language. Norway was the only other country that demonstrated cultural engagement in a similarly overt manner by including a separate ‘culture and religion’ component. All countries and states did, however, demonstrate reintegrative services that were culturally and religiously inclusive despite the lack of representation in the models. The extent to which this inclusion affects practice and is effective is difficult to determine without evaluation.

Regardless of which factors were included in reintegration models/frameworks, all jurisdictions acknowledged that successful reintegration and model implementation depends on a number of factors:

  1. Intensity and timing of reintegrative needs assessment and timely review(s) of initial assessment to monitor changes and make necessary adjustments.
  2. Obtaining adequate data quality and depth during reintegrative needs assessments.
  3. Staff that are adequately trained and skilled in conducting effective assessments.
  4. Striving for manageable caseloads among assessors and/or case managers.
  5. Effective communication by staff internally and externally (inter-agency approach).

All countries had similar reintegrative services based on the “what works” literature, however, not all models detailed everything that was available. For example, all countries had reintegrative services that included financial aid, but finance related categories such as “debt counselling” (Norway) or “finance, benefit and debt” (England and Wales) were only present in some reintegration models, while others made no mention of such support (e.g. Ireland did not include a financial welfare component in their model of reintegration but does provide financial services and social welfare benefits (Irish Association for Social Inclusion Opportunities, 2018). Thus, it is fair to conclude that reintegration models do not overtly present all available services that a country or state provides. There is no set of universal guidelines about the level of detail and transparency required when designing a reintegration model; therefore, inferences and conclusions about the services provided by international correctional departments based solely on models should be made with caution.

Key findings

  1. New Zealand is the only country with a formally named model of reintegration. Other countries simply highlighted a series of components during reintegrative practice.
  2. All countries demonstrated similar capabilities and provided similar reintegrative services overall. Note that specific services were not scanned in any great detail as this exceeded the scope of the review.
  3. The reintegration models observed did not always overtly indicate all available reintegrative services (e.g. financial support was provided in various forms across all countries, but only some models overtly included a financial support component such as “debt counselling”).
  4. Most models were more complex than the New Zealand Six Pillar Model. In particular, international models differentiated aspects related to health and wellbeing, with aspects such as “mental health” and “drug and alcohol abuse” as discrete categories. New Zealand’s model has the broader “Oranga/Wellbeing” category.
  5. Social, lingual and psychological sciences (Bernburg, 2009) acknowledge the benefits of having a named model and suggest that having more specific categories may avoid misinterpretation regarding practice and implementation. However, this is largely dependent on other factors such as staff competence and quality of assessment by staff and service providers.
  6. Discrete categories regarding accommodation, education and employment existed among all international models.
  7. Family and community support was included among all models of reintegration except the Norwegian model.
  8. New Zealand’s Six Pillar model of reintegration is the only approach which incorporates indigenous language. This could be interpreted as New Zealand’s commitment to engaging Māori. The Norwegian model was the only other model which overtly mentioned engaging culturally diverse individuals by including a “culture and religion” category. However, all countries did demonstrate reintegrative services that were culturally and religiously inclusive.


These findings indicate that, despite slight variances, New Zealand’s model of reintegration aligns with both international models and the broader scientific evidence base. It was not in the scope of this review to assess which international models were found to be most effective. However, the ideas raised here may be useful for future research. It’s clear that reintegration practices have major implications for reducing re-offending and further research is required internationally.


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