Author: Dr Annie Weir, Director, Impact Research NZ, Honorary Research Fellow, School of Critical Studies in Education, Faculty of Education, University of Auckland.
The Department of Corrections Innovation Fund supports their aim to reduce recidivism. The Whakamanahia Wahine community-based programme received funding for two pilots in 2013 and 2014 which were attended by between ten and 14 low-risk female offenders from the Bay of Plenty. The programme goals were to improve individual well-being and personal development and to reduce recidivism. The programme was based on a holistic approach to building sustainable skills for personal wellbeing including self-efficacy around educational attainment, building personal wellbeing skills, fostering positive relationships and creating personal pathway plans. A three-month follow-up evaluation from the first pilot showed zero recidivism amongst the contacted participants. The programme for the second pilot for ten participants kept mostly the format of the first pilot, however based on participant and stakeholder feedback the programme length was extended (from six weeks to eight weeks), a co-facilitator and mentors were included as well as selecting educational goals based on the participants’ individual needs. These programme elements are supported by the international literature on good practice. The evaluations and results of these two pilots support the possibility for future mainstreaming of funds to offer this programme more widely.