In November 2017 Iosis hosted 40 female judges who preside over Family, Criminal and High Courts in New Zealand and Australia.
Many of these judges had encountered parents who have gone through Iosis programmes. They praised the positive changes they’ve noticed in the lives of those parents, and highlighted the importance of Iosis’s work in providing a pathway for change for the young people they see in court.
Iosis CEO Tunumafono Tracey-Leigh Peters opened the event with a presentation on how Iosis supports families, with a particular focus on Merivale, which is Iosis’s residential parenting programme.
A highlight of the judges’ visit was hearing from some of the Merivale mums who shared their stories of transformation. They talked about how Merivale had helped them overcome drug and alcohol use, toxic relationships and emotional abuse, for the good of their whānau.
One of the mums, Tasha*, spoke of how she was sentenced to prison just as she discovered that she was pregnant. She delivered her baby while in Wiri Women’s Prison and was soon transferred to their Mothers with Babies unit. There she made a conscious decision that this wasn’t the life she wanted for her and her son.
The Family Court judge acknowledged her desire for change, and ruled that she could be released to Merivale for six months. During that time, Tasha made massive strides in transforming her life.
Both the judge who had sentenced Tasha to prison and the judge who had released her were in the audience. Everyone celebrated together as they expressed their joy to see that Tasha had made such a vast difference to her life from the time they saw her in court.
It was a memorable and inspirational morning, filled with warmth, laughter and the heartfelt stories of the Merivale mums’ incredible stories of transformation.
Story: Fay Nanai
Fay Nanai is Iosis’s Fundraising and Communications Coordinator.
*Name changed to protect privacy.