So what is RAW?

RAW is based off a working business model that many leading global entrepreneurs have advanced in developing countries.

RAW breaks the cycle of drugs, crime and violence for recidivist female offenders.

RAW enables the next generation to be nurtured though the education system with a highly functional mother.

RAW provides an unprecedented level of 360 degree wrap around support to those that society has been unable to re-integrate given the recidivist nature of their offending.

RAW offers information and advice to families and friends of newly incarcerated inmates. RAW will talk you through the process, systems, expectations and the environment on the inside, assisting you to navigate Correction’s system, answering the many questions you will have once your connection has been jailed.

RAW wins the war of social disruption and fiscal cost by reintegrating the women through supported education that also addresses the country’s employment skill gaps.

RAW gives choice and visibility to those that are unable to re-integrate into mainstream society through supported living and education.

RAW changes the outcomes for mothers, the hub and spoke of the family unit. Their change will mean their children are once again protected and nurtured.

RAW advocates for the government to implement policies, guidelines and fiscal frameworks that will achieve this objective and stop the long term funding drain and social cost for New Zealand.

Incubation Programme

The RAW incubator model provides a multi-layered level of support that advances, challenges and excites the RAW women as well as addressing the key barriers to living a legal life. We have identified the key barriers to achieving successful re-integration into society as:

  • Associating with previous contacts.
  • Limited, if any, access to support/skill building/direction/trusted dependable partnerships.
  • A disconnection, stigmatisation and rejection by mainstream society.
  • Returning to familiar, negative environments.
  • Government agencies are limited in their ability to connect and support – they are under resourced and ill equipped to manage the disruption and chaos that they encounter.

Given the extent of these barriers, it’s little wonder the women being released into our communities struggle to integrate, quickly lose belief in themselves and return to their previous lifestyles and patterns of illegal behaviours.

RAW Offers A Pathway Forward To A Different Lifestyle.

From Incarceration
To Incubation.

The RAW incubator programme begins in prison where women are assessed against rigid criteria to confirm their readiness for change and for “incubation”. On selection, RAW then guides the women’s choice, involvement and completion of relevant educational pathways – that begin on the inside, and which will continue on the outside – as well as building up a trusted relationship. RAW travels the entire journey with those on the incubator programme.

On release from prison, RAW women are placed in incubator homes which house up to 4 women including one house mother (usually a RAW women that has been out for more than 4 months). These homes have been secured and rented by RAW in the Hamilton area. This geographic separation from their old world is all part of the total focus on establishing the behaviour change and educational pathways required to successfully reintegrate these women back into mainstream living without disruption.

Incubator House
Rules Provide Structure

Incubator houses provide a safe, structured living environment that allows for growth, acceptance and sound decision making.  While the rules of the incubator homes are extensive – For example, they do not allow children to live in and only approved visitors are welcome – they are welcomed by the residents. RAW women have come from a disciplined environment (prison) and therefore guidelines and restrictions are the one thing that provides stability while they are beginning to advance with RAW’s 360 wrap around support service. The initial incubation period is for 12 months as this time frame feels achievable by the women entering the programme and, is also long enough to achieve sustained behavioral and life changes. In many ways the RAW programme is an extension of the incarcerated environment but unlike prison, RAW is achieving very real and different outcomes that are unprecedented in this country.

RAW focuses on mums and becomes the “navigator” that the ‘More effective social services Report’ recommends the government adopt.  It works at an individual level to understand the needs and the services (education, health, and living) required to help each woman to reshape their lives.

Pay It Forward

The incubated women have also been approved by Corrections to re-enter the Wiri Prison to promote this initiative to other inmates – this is unprecedented! Such is the agreement and belief in the Incubation Programme that the Department of Corrections have acted to support this initiative at all levels, including unlimited and unprecedented access to inmates and mutual information sharing with essential providers.


The support from the Waikato community has also been incredible. The incubator houses are fully furnished from donated content. The gifting has been heartfelt and a first for the women, who are already giving back in a variety of ways. Wintec and the Waikato University have offered full educational scholarships for all the incubator women.


We have also had massive corporate, government and private trust fund, and individual connection and buy in. Our collaborative partners can be found below this article or on the “Organisations Supporting RAW” web page.

Raw Aims To Have Seven Homes
Up And Running By The End Of 2016.

We have 25 women on the pathway in Wiri with 12 due to be released this year and the balance next year.* RAW covers the total cost of living for each woman for the year they are incubated. We have essentially become a very successful and very different out-of-gate provider.

*These figures are subject to change as the RAW numbers change weekly as women sign up.

Short term success rate of release and rehabilitation of RAW women into incubation:


Long term (1 year + ) success rate of release and rehabilitation of RAW women into incubation:


This Is Working And Will Scale

At the end of the women’s education, or earlier, we fully unite the women with their children and secure housing, and wrap around them as a lifelong initiative, to continue their educational and career pathway. The women will remain on a RAW benefit along with supplemented funding support for their period of study. The wrap around guidance and support from the RAW initiative will continue for the rest of their lives, should they need it.

It Makes Good Dollars And Sense

It costs $92,000.00 per year to keep one woman incarcerated. This does not include community expenses like policing, probation, costs of criminal behaviors (insurances), destruction of families (collateral damage of making income by criminal activity including drug manufacturing and tracking, legal aid, court costs, CYPS, medical costs, unpaid fines, ongoing debt etc).


It takes little calculation to forecast the savings at every level that this initiative can make for all those involved. Although the women are on a benefit this will have a finite end, as the women finish study and go into careers, not just jobs, at the end of the study term.


An additional funding line of $25,000 per woman per annum as they move through the incubation and extended study period (capped at 3-4 years) is sought from the government, corporates and private funders as an out-of-gate provider, to truly advance and cement this change. First year savings to the Government per woman is $25,000 (x 3 years of a degree $75k) then the women will become independent and functioning contributors to mainstream.

The Cost Of The Status Quo

35 women at $92, 000 pa when incarcerated = $3.2million (minimum) cost to the Government and NZ per annum. If we assume that these women repeat their existing pattern of reoffending then the costs per woman rapidly escalate.

  • 30 odd years of recidivist behavior and government support (16 to 50 years)
  • If we assume 50% in incarcerated costs and 50% in benefit related costs we are looking at around $1.5m in incarcerated costs ($100k x 15 years) and $390k in benefit related costs ($26k x 15 years)
  • Total cost over the 30 years almost $2m for one woman that is then bringing up her children to repeat the cycle.

Extract from New Zealand Productivity Commissions report on More Effective Social Services – September 2015

Raw Has Simply Been A Catalyst To Commence
This Very Necessary Work

RAW has broken the cycle for the first lot of incubated women. It has given them visibility and bought them back as contributors to mainstream NZ where they will now raise their children from a very different platform. These women will be the game changers for the social change that is needed in New Zealand. They are resourceful and determined; seeing RAW as the opportunity they never thought they would have. RAW has got them up and running towards an exciting finishing post for themselves and their children.


The words of Celia Lashlie resonate strongly …. 

 “For me it isn’t just about us ‘fixing them’ – it’s about empowering those that come from disadvantaged and criminal backgrounds to realise the potential that they have to make a difference within their own families. It is about showing them that they can be different and that they are the key to that difference. It is about investing them with sense of themselves and a right to live a life free of hassle and harassment”

From Celia Lashlie – The Journey to Prison”

The Next Evolution

Our next goal is to expand the reach of this model, including to men, but we need New Zealander’s help to achieve that outcome.

  • We need Government support and buy in.
  • We need community acceptance, collaboration and trust.
  • We need donations of time, money and excess goods and services from corporate, and private individuals.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss any form of contribution you are able to make to help us continue our momentum.

Join Our Efforts

RAW is currently seeking four cornerstone partners to supplement existing funding to allow the model to be available to a larger number of participants over the next three years.

‘If you can’t help 100 people, then just help ONE.’

Our work is advanced because of the collaboration that we have with the following:

Gallagher Charitable Trust as RAW’s first Cornerstone Partner. 

Gallagher Logo