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Volunteer with Mothers Project

New volunteers must complete application forms processed by Department of Corrections.  All volunteers must then attend an induction session at the prison they will be visiting. Inductions are held regularly, usually monthly. Mothers Project will also arrange training  for new volunteers on more specific aspects of being a volunteer.
Who we need

We are looking for female volunteer lawyers to visit imprisoned mothers in Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility,  Christchurch Women’s Prison, Arohata and Upper Arohata Prison at Rimutaka Prison in Wellington. 


Often volunteers do not have expertise in family law. They may work in large commercial law firms and in-house roles. What they all have in common is a desire to help imprisoned mothers and their children.

What volunteers do

Working as a team, volunteers travel as a group to and from a prison each month where each visit lasts a few hours. Dates are agreed with Department of Corrections in advance and transport can be arranged. They visit units where mothers can ask to meet with them in a safe group setting. The work volunteers do includes:

  • Helping mothers understand their responsibilities and rights as parents

  • Locating children within the care system

  • Speaking with caregivers and, where involved, Oranga Tamariki on behalf of mothers regarding interaction with their children

  • Helping mothers document steps taken while imprisoned to keep in touch with their children

  • Obtaining court orders and/or Oranga Tamariki files for mothers

  • Reviewing and explaining legal documents

  • Helping mothers engage family lawyers, if needed

  • Coordinating with social workers to help mothers, if involved.

What to expect during a prison visit

Depending on the prison, mothers who seek assistance can sign up with staff to participate or can simply ‘walk up’ from the unit floor.  Once a mother signs a consent form and provides some general background information, the volunteers will seek to help. Few issues can be addressed immediately but most do not require time-consuming follow-up. Such follow-up work is coordinated between volunteers, who often work together to help each other, and supervision is available if volunteers have questions.

Updates for the mothers are either provided via email back into the prison or shared during the next monthly visit. Different volunteers can attend each month, because follow up work is logged on a tracking chart that is organised alphabetically and only shared with volunteers, so any volunteer can update any mother during a monthly visit.

How to apply

Use this step-by-step guide to help you to apply through our online volunteer management system.

If you would like to ask specific questions or require more information about Mothers Project, please get in touch.

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