Absolutely. We often get phone calls from whānau members requesting a cultural report for their loved one, or friends doing the same. Anyone can start the cultural report process on behalf of a defendant. We then liaise with the defendant's lawyer and the defendant to follow through with the request for a report.
No, not at all. Whānau participation is not compulsory. But more often than not, we find whānau contribution valuable and we are also able to help re-connect whānau with their loved ones in prison (particularly where they have been disconnected for a while).
We ask defendants to nominate one or two people who they would like us to contact to contribute to their cultural report. Ideally, these are whānau members who know the defendant well and can speak about the defendant's background factors.
Yes, there have been times when we have facilitated whānau hui with several people in attendance. We try and accommodate the needs of the whānau as best we can.
We listen to the whānau perspective about how their loved one, who is going through the criminal justice system, came to be in that predicament. Whānau can often provide us with a fuller picture of a person's background. Whānau interviews can also support what the defendant has shared about their narrative.
We are very careful not to disclose information that has been shared with us in confidence by a defendant. Sometimes a defendant is sharing information with us that their whānau are unaware of. For us, the whānau input is more about gathering their perspective on the defendant's background and what they believe to be the causes of the offending.
No. We do all the travelling (if funding permits), or more often than not we phone or use online meeting platforms such as Google Meet or Zoom. We try to be as flexible as possible to accommodate the unique circumstances of each whānau.
This is up to the defendant. Reports are confidential and given only to the lawyer (who then passes it on to their client).