MUMS from across the western region who’ve had a brush with the law have found benefits from a program designed specifically to assist them.

The Western Research Institute (WRI) evaluated the outcomes of Barnardos Beyond Barbed Wire Program from 2013 to the present, to determine the contribution the
program makes in economic and social terms.

Beyond Barbed Wire (BBW) offers a suite of support services for women and children, most of whom are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI), who are returning
home following release from custody.

WRI assessed the program’s outcomes by considering re-offending or recidivism rates, reductions in interactions across the criminal justice system and the impacts from the
program’s support services that build parenting, social and vocational skills.

Most notably, WRI found the Beyond Barbed Wire program helped to stop mothers from re-offending for the sake of their children.

“Comparing the Beyond Barbed Wire program recidivism rate of 7 per against the Australian trend 42.9 percent for all women who re-offend, and 66 percent of
ATSI women who re-offend, illustrates how strong the outcomes of the program are,” WRI’s CEO Kathy Woolley said.

In addition to the social benefits, WRI estimated the economic net present value of expanding the Beyond Barbed Wire program to be $1.38 million over a 10-year period.

“The results of the Benefit/Cost analysis indicated that, for every dollar spent in the Beyond Barbed Wire program, more than two dollars of benefit is returned to the communities where the program is delivered,” Ms Woolley said.

75 percent of the participants interviewed said the program had helped improve their parenting skills, while 95 percent felt there were improvements in their relationships with their kids.

Barnardos program Co-Ordinator Shiree Talbot said she found it uplifting to hear comments of how participants now had a sense of hope, or felt more confident and can do things and be successful.

The research found quantifiable benefits which included reduction in health system and welfare system costs, plus a reduction in crime rates and recidivism with consequential savings in policing, court and justice system costs.

Non-quantifiable benefits noted were improvements to child welfare outcomes and quality of life, social justice improvements and a reduced incidents of family violence.

“Breaking the cycle of repeat offending provides an estimated annual economic net benefit of $22,150 per person per annum,” Ms Woolley said.

The Barnardos Beyond Barbed Wire WRI Evaluation Report will be officially launched today (Thursday, May 3) by Federal Member for Calare Andrew Gee.

A screening of a Beyond Barbed Wire documentary will also accompany the launch, featuring interviews with participants in the program.

(This article was first published in the Dubbo Photo News and was written by John Ryan.)

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