11 Dec 2014

Calls for more Pacific Churches to help NGO projects

12:53 pm on 11 December 2014

A domestic violence worker in the Pacific says communities have "workshop fatigue" and need more inspiring role models to combat HIV and violence.

A Country Director with the British Council New Zealand, Ingrid Leary, says issues such as gender-based violence and HIV can be taboo topics in some communities and behavioural change requires more than just awareness of the problems.

She says there is often criticism of churches, despite the work they do, and this can be a result of allowing the stigma around AIDS to continue, rather than showing care and compassion.

"They are at the heart of the teachings of all the churches in the Pacific. So it's not a great leap to then suggest that the churches show leadership in those areas for all their parishioners, including the most vulnerable, including women, children, people affected by illnesses including HIV. I mean, Jesus mingled with the lepers."

Ingrid Leary says churches are the major influences of behaviour and some can do much more to lead on sensitive issues.