Evaluating how the Healthy Relationship Program meets the needs of women in prison

The Healthy Relationships Program was delivered to women in prison in August 2016 and will be evaluated by a research team at Flinders University.

The Healthy Relationship Program: Emotional and Physical Wellbeing is a collaboration between Northern Domestic Violence Service, Flinders University and the Specialised Family Violence Service at Relationships Australia South Australia (RASA). This program is specifically designed to meet the needs of women in prison – sensitive to the reality that women in corrections have extensive victimisation histories. The program was written and developed by the Specialised Family Violence Service at RASA. Initial research and development of the program was funded through The Department for Correctional Services.

RASA and Northern Domestic Violence staff delivered an eight week program to fourteen women at the Adelaide Women’s Prison. Based on the concept of ‘respectful relationships’, each women’s individual strengths were explored, as well as the importance of ‘taking care of yourself’. Importantly, women were taught how to identify family and domestic violence through myth-busting, and empowered them to name the abuse. The program also addressed how incarceration and family and domestic violence impacts relationships and parenting. Participants were also provided with information about where to go for help, the barriers to accessing services and how stay connected to community.

Feedback from program participants is positive and encouraging with many women stating they have gained important information about themselves and their relationships. To help better understanding how to run effective programs for women in prison, The Healthy Relationship pilot program will be evaluated by a research team at Flinders University.

Feedback from program participants:

“I feel more comfortable to identify DV and now feel more confident in my strengths to make better and safer choices”

“I found the course valuable in learning about where I have put my energy in the past, and where I would like to put my energy in the future.”

“I feel I have more tools to use when people put me down.”

“Sharing in this course and the supports we have gained in ourselves and from each other has made it feel okay to talk about DV and talk about ways to cope.”

“I found it valuable to learn about my self-worth.”

“This course helped give me ideas about how I can support my own children.”

“I now have information I can use for early intervention when I get the feeling things just aren’t quite right.”

For more information about the Healthy Relationships Program, please contact Mel at the Elizabeth office on 08 8255 3323.