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An evaluation of the cultural supervision prototype undertaken within the Department of Corrections, Hamilton

Disproportionately high rates of offending and recidivism among Māori are well documented. As part of its attempt to better meet the needs of Māori offenders, the Department of Corrections is developing cultural supervision for staff in the Community Probation Service, the Public Prisons Service and the Psychological Service. The aims of cultural supervision include improving staff members’ knowledge of Māori cultural values, providing support for staff in managing complex cultural issues, and ensuring safe practice and culturally appropriate behaviour. During 2002, the Māori and Psychology Research Unit was contracted to conduct a survey of current practices in relation to cultural supervision and a process evaluation of a prototype of cultural supervision being trialled in the Waikato among probation officers (Hamilton Area) and sentence planners (Waikeria Prison) (Karapu, Masters, Robertson, Trynes, & Waitoki, 2002). Findings from the survey indicated that most staff had informal cultural support or advice available to them. Usually, this was in the form of Māori colleagues within the Department. Less commonly, support was sought from Māori in other organisations, from knowledgeable non-Māori within the Department, kaumātua and kuia, and whānau members. About a third of Corrections staff were receiving some formal cultural supervision, most of whom regarded it positively. Among other staff, both Māori and non-Māori, there was a high level of interest in cultural supervision, and a view that it would be beneficial to their professional practice. Overall, staff felt that the support and advice currently available to them was inadequate. Findings from the evaluation of the prototype suggested that while many of the participants viewed cultural supervision as important for their job, fewer considered that the supervision they were receiving was meeting their needs. Some experienced non-Māori staff seemed to be resistant to the idea of cultural supervision, feeling that they already knew how to relate to Māori offenders. Māori staff were generally enthusiastic about cultural supervision but wanted it to focus on their personal safety as Māori within a “mainstream” institution rather than on their practice. However, both Māori and non-Māori staff generally felt that the cultural supervision sessions provided a safe environment. The prototype appeared to be a good beginning and the model should be stronger when modified in the light of experience.
Conference Contribution
Type of thesis
Masters, B., Trynes, M, Kaparu, R., Robertson, N. & Waitoki, M. (2003). An evaluation of the cultural supervision prototype undertaken within the Department of Corrections, Hamilton. In Nikora, L.W., Levy, M., Masters, B., Waitoki, W., Te Awekotuku, N., and Etheredge, R.J.M. (Eds). The Proceedings of the National Māori Graduates of Psychology Symposium 2002: Making a difference. Proceedings of a symposium hosted by the Māori & Psychology Research Unit at the University of Waikato, Hamilton, 29-30 November 2002 (pp.49-55). Hamilton, New Zealand: Māori and Psychology Research Unit, University of Waikato.
Maori and Psychology Research Unit, University of Waikato