Waitakere Safe Community
8 December, 2006
Waitakere Safe Community
Waitakere has been formally redesignated as a World Health Organisation ‘safe community’.
Mayor Harvey says that while Waitakere, like every community, cannot call itself completely safe, the council is striving to make the city safer – “and then safer and safer again”.
“Being a Safe Community is a journey – a journey of continuous improvement,” Mayor Harvey says.
“As in most new things, when we started on this journey there was little to guide us other than our gut feelings of what might work.”
But today, he says, we know a great deal more about what works and what doesn’t work and so progress is becoming surer and quicker as we increasingly build on success and progress.
“We know we need to be smart, we need to design the city so it’s light, bright and busy so it’s designed for safety, growth and development.”
Among Waitakere’s proudest achievements are our 40km/ph zones around schools, the reduction of alcohol related injuries in young men, and the high rates of seat belt wearing and child seats in our vehicles, says Mayor Harvey.
However, he urges that Waitakere should remain vigilant against its biggest enemy – domestic violence.
“It is shameful that nearly 40% of family violence cases in Waitakere are repeat offenders, the highest rate in the country,” Mayor Harvey says.
“We must eradicate family violence, and laws and regulations and enforcement alone cannot achieve that.”
The Mayor proposed the concept of Waitakere becoming a City for Peace to aid law enforcement in battling the epidemic.
“The City for Peace concept is about peace on all levels, peace from armed conflict certainly, but also about peace in our communities; peace in our intentions towards each other - and being at peace with ourselves.
"Domestic violence grows out of social issues and alcohol - and under these stresses people become aggressive. When people are at peace with themselves, they are at peace with the people around them, ” he says.
"While Waitakere’s domestic violence statistics are appalling, at least they show the problem is becoming increasingly visible, and that Waitakere is confronting the issue," says Mayor Harvey.
Waitakere was the first city in New Zealand to be accredited with safe community status in 1999.
The WHO Safe Communities model creates an infrastructure in local communities for addressing injury prevention initiatives by building partnerships between organisations as well as providing access to the experience of like communities throughout the world.
It gives the city a benchmark to reflect on how it is delivering the safe community principles; signalling direction of developments and measuring progress.