Mothers Project involves female volunteer lawyers visiting imprisoned mothers in Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility, Christchurch Women’s Prison, Arohata and Rimutaka in Wellington. Working as a team, volunteers travel as a group to and from a prison each month where each visit lasts a few hours. They visit units where mothers can ask to meet with them in a safe group setting.
What to expect during a visit?
Depending on the prison, mothers who seek assistance can sign up with staff to participate or can simply ‘walk up’ from the unit floor. Dates are agreed on with Department of Corrections in advance and transport is arranged. Once a mother signs a consent form and provides some general background information, the volunteers will seek to help. Few issues can be addressed immediately but most do not require time-consuming follow-up. Such follow up work is coordinated between volunteers, who often work together to help each other, and supervision is available if volunteers have questions.
Updates for the mothers are either provided via email back into the prison or shared during the next monthly visit. Although different volunteers can attend each month, because follow up work is logged on a tracking chart that is organised alphabetically and only shared with volunteers, any volunteer can update any mother during a monthly visit.
Want to get involved?
New volunteers must complete a Volunteer Application Form and a Request for Criminal Conviction History Form both issued by the Department of Corrections. All volunteers must then attend an induction session at the prison they will be visiting. Inductions are usually held monthly. Mothers Project will also arrange training for new volunteers on more specific aspects of being a volunteer.
Most volunteers do not have expertise in family law. Rather they work in large commercial law firms and in house roles but they want to help incarcerated mothers and their children.
If you are a female lawyer keen to volunteer and would like to apply, please email the completed forms to Gayle.NolanBrown@minterellison.co.nz
If you would like to ask specific questions or require more information on Mothers Project, contact Stacey Shortall.