5 Aug 2019

More men needed to help combat domestic violence

2:22 pm on 5 August 2019

A police-led domestic violence intervention programme has made inroads in stopping Māori victims being subject to further abuse, but it is struggling to find enough men to work with perpetrators.

Domestic violence

A violence intervention programme is struggling to find enough men to work with perpetrators. Photo: 123RF

The Integrated Safety Response Pilot is led by police but works with about a dozen different agencies and started in Waikato and Canterbury three years ago.

A briefing to the police minister in May reported "significant improvements" in responsiveness to Māori in particular, which include an 18 percent reduction in Māori victims being hurt again.

However, the briefing also noted that there needed to be more opportunities to work with men, and those who are violent.

Waikato Māori Women's Refuge Whakaruruhau chief executive Ruahine Albert agreed that response times were quicker, and there were more positive engagements with whānau.

However, she said it had been a 15-year struggle to find the funding to employ more men, and even then, they have only able to employ four men at Whakaruruhau compared to 40 female advocates.

"Our men need the support as well - if we are ever going to change their thinking and use of violence and power and control over someone else they need to be able to understand what they're doing.

"If they are wanting to maintain that relationship or any relationship then we want them to understand that and our men that we work with - our male advocates - their role is really important and they work in collaboration with the female advocates that work with the women."

The Under Secretary to the Minister of Justice Jan Logie said government agencies were slowly making the big shift towards holding men responsible for their violent behaviour.

"We've spent too long holding women responsible for their own safety and the safety of their kids and we've put too much attention on them having to do all that work rather than us engaging with the tāne to actually hold them accountable for their violence and help them change."

She said that the programme was helping men to change their behaviour through the issuing of safety orders rather than arresting abusers, and providing an intervention at that point to try and get them to think to change their behaviour.

Ms Logie said she had received feedback from the community that pay for people working with domestic violence victims and perpetrators was inadequate.

In the Budget $40 million has been set aside for domestic violence, a portion of which will go towards extending the pilot in Canterbury and Waikato for another two years, which Ms Logie said would allow more time to put in place the support and capacity the providers need to tackle violence.

Neither police nor the Ministry of Justice would comment, saying that they were waiting for the release of the final evaluation later this year.

Where to get help:

Women's Refuge: (0800 733 843)

It's Not OK (0800 456 450)

Shine: 0508 744 633

]http://www.victimsinfo.govt.nz/ Victim Support]: 0800 650 654

HELP Call 24/7 (Auckland): 09 623 1700, (Wellington): be 04 801 6655 - 0

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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