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Corrections ‘Burning Off’ Family Violence NGOs

Corrections ‘Burning Off’ Family Violence NGOs

4th June 2014

The announcement that Family Violence community providers have boycotted a Corrections tender for the provision of male offenders in the community comes as no surprise, said Kim Workman, spokesperson for Rethinking Crime and Punishment. He was responding to the Dompost article ‘Plan is doomed to fail, Tolley warned’ (4 June).

“When the department’s notice of the tender went out early this year, it sent a shock wave through the family violence sector, with providers uniformly appalled at the proposal. The rationale for the programme was based on two ideas; first, that family violence is primarily caused by patriarchal ideology, and second, that family violence is a learned, functional behaviour which can be altered by a focus on psychological factors such as attitudes, beliefs, and emotional and behavioural self-control. It also took a risk based approach, which over the last 15 years, has embedded itself in the department’s DNA. The model fails to fully address the emerging research on offender desistance, nor has there been adequate attention paid to the over-representation of Māori in family violence statistics.

There is a growing concern that Corrections in seeking to introduce a medical therapeutic model which depends on delivery from trained clinicians, will ‘burn off’ the experience, good will and commitment of not for profit organisations. This has already happened with the ‘Out of Gate’ prisoner reintegration services, with contracts going to private corporates and groups like Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation going to the wall. With that goes decades of community engagement, grass roots experience, intricate networking, and collaborative problem solving. In the absence of the social capital that NGO’s bring to the mix, the programmes will not succeed. Private corporates will only deliver what they are funded to deliver – NGO’s have always understood that the funding they get from government is a ‘contribution ‘not the complete package.

What is probably needed at this time, is for Corrections to take a leaf out of the Ministry of Social Development’s book, and commit to the ongoing development of NGO provider capability – If they do that they will retain the loyalty and commitment of providers, who bring a lot more to the mix than a report card which says “output achieved”.


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