Navigating through the first year and beyond

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"In many cases, the practical support (such as accommodation) that the clients received through Navigate has been essential for their ability to gain parole. While we cannot draw any final conclusions until the follow-up interviews have been completed, these initial results are very encouraging.”
- Ben Elley, Senior Researcher, Independent Research Solutions

We have reached yet another milestone for the Navigate Initiative (NI) - our one year anniversary!

Looking back and reminiscing on our first year of operation, I went through old files and found the first update I had written to everyone interested in the NI community concept, dated May 2016. It noted that:

Progress in the last two months has gone slowly in this area (Gaining the full support for the concept with the Department of Corrections) but I have a key meeting with the new Regional Commissioner for the Department of Corrections who covers the South Island which is set down for next week and the Community Unit (now named the Navigate Initiative) idea will be on the agenda. Gaining his support will give us an important guide on the possible timing for establishment.

At that meeting, we were able to gain his support (thanks to all of your support!!) for NZ’s first ever equal partnership between the community and the Department of Corrections, and since then our progress sped up, with the NI officially being blessed and opened to its first 14 residents on 8 October 2018. One year later, we have seen 39 Tu Ora (prisoners in the NI) enter the unit, 15 of whom have been supported in their transition into the community, with just 1 recalled to prison (to date). At the time of this update, a further 20 remain within the unit, being supported in the lead up to their pending release. We have learnt a lot in the first 12 months, but continue to hold close the following key guiding principles in all we do:

  • Providing a continuum of care - providing support which travels through the prison wire into the community
  • Developing a true partnership between the community and the Department of Corrections
  • Bringing a focus on preparing for life - providing life navigational skills for each of the Tu Ora we work with
  • Ensuring that what is provided inside the NI unit creates value in the community, this is not a way to pass time in prison, but to improve yourself for better future outcomes.


How we measure success

Part of our commitment to all our investors is to continue to measure the reintegrative value of the work we do. This is best shown by the rate in which we have been able to reduce both the level of re-offending and rate of re-imprisonment of those we have supported to be released into the community.

To do this we have partnered with Independent Research Solutions, Dr Jarrod Gilbert and Ben Elley, alongside the Department of Corrections own research team, to provide independent research into these outcomes. Measuring reintegration outcomes will take some time, with the first meaningful numbers not due until the end of year two (this allows us to
build a cohort of individuals released during the first year who will have then had an opportunity to be in the community for 12-months or longer). We will then build on this research with new reports from years 3, 4 and 5, to get a better understanding of the impact and value of our reintegration services. The research timeline aligns with the five-year funding plan for the pilot programme. We will share the completed report with you all once it is available.

During the first year, we have worked with Independent Research Solutions to measure factors which we know are important for someone released from prison, to be more likely to be successful during the transition back into the community. This has been done by interviewing eight Tu Ora, to understand how prepared they felt for their release at the start of their transition, and how well this matched up with their experience after three months in the community. 

To date, the research team has completed all of the pre-release interviews and are now starting to pick up on the three-month post-release interviews. We expect to have this report ready to be shared with the NI investors by the end of the year, but in the meantime, Ben Elley shared this following update with us:

“Clients in the NI unit speak highly of the programme. Those we have interviewed reported that they enjoy the environment there, and that they have a very positive relationship with the unit and Pathway staff. They found the educational programmes useful, and some reported being exposed to ideas and opportunities that they would not have otherwise. 

None of the clients that we spoke to are being released from prison for the first time, and all have lengthy and difficult histories of offending. Despite this, all reported feeling more confident about their prospects than they did for past releases, and much better prepared to handle the practical hurdles of rebuilding their lives in the community. In many cases, the practical support (such as accommodation) that they received through Navigate has been essential for their ability to gain parole. While we cannot draw any final conclusions until the follow-up interviews have been completed, these initial results are very encouraging.”

- Ben Elley, Senior Researcher, Independent Research Solutions

As we apply these learnings and principles, we’re continuously seeking to achieve our goal- providing the world’s very best prisoner reintegration programme.


As always flying kites and praying for wind,

Carey Ewing, Pathway Reintegration Manager


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