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Why We Help

When a mother is sent to prison, she’s not the only one who is punished. Her children – who have done no wrong, whatever crime their mother may have committed - can be punished too.

Children aren’t responsible for their mother’s offending. They're just like another victim. Mothers often want their kids to know that even though they’re in a prison, they haven’t stopped thinking about them and wanting what’s best for them. 

Giving these mothers the support they need to turn their own lives around will have a positive impact on their children, families and our communities. 

Since Mothers Project was established, over 950 mothers have participated in Mothers Project.


These are women who don't trust easily. Who often - without excusing their criminal behaviour and we are very mindful that they have created victims - are victims themselves of physical and emotional violence and sexual abuse. Their stories are harrowing.  

But, no matter what these women have done or been through, they want to stay connected to their children, even if only to tell their children not to end up in prison like they have. 

"Some people have quite tough views around women inside. But I think the great equaliser is that many of these women have children, and I think everyone in New Zealand wants what’s best for every child."

The inability to maintain meaningful relationships with their children can result in negative behaviour by mothers while behind bars and does little to motivate good behaviour post-release. Perhaps most signficantly, their children suffer the loss of their mother's emotional support. 

So children miss out. They miss their mums. The sound of her voice, that many of them have known all their lives, grows quiet. And, for some children, almost disappears. 

Mothers Project is about helping mothers and children maintain a positive connection.


have been victims of family violence, rape and/or sexual violence


have signficant literacy problems


of women in prison have a lifetime diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder 


have been diagnosed with mental health problems


have lifetime alcohol dependence


have drug dependence disorders

6,712 women are under the management of Corrections. 

675 (6.8% of the prison population) are in prison 

An estimated 85% are mothers.
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