28 May 2015

Cook Islands trial free legal advice for domestic abuse victims

3:34 pm on 28 May 2015

A Cook Islands counselling centre says it hopes to empower victims of domestic violence by giving them access to free legal advice.

The Punanga Tauturu group has launched a pilot programme which focuses on mediation services and early intervention for female domestic abuse victims.

Its in-court manager and legal officer, Nga Teinangaro, says women who have suffered domestic violence often do not have the means to seek legal advice, and need extra support.

She says they'll offer guidance on how to put protection orders in place, and women need to know there's support in the community and to tap into it.

"We're aiming to actually reduce voilence against women and children, that's the whole aim. Sometimes the mediation and the early intervention actually becomes successful, and learning to compromise about those things, and each partner learning their individual rights as well."

Nga Teinangaro says women can seek help over the phone, or drop into their offices, and the aim is for the service to become long-term.

Standard cells have a telephone for inmates to call pre-approved phone numbers.

Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson