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New Children’s Advocate for Southland

New Children’s Advocate for Southland

Young witnesses of family violence in Invercargill will benefit thanks to the appointment of a Child and Young Person’s Advocate in the city.

Sandra Gorham, who has a background in education and advocacy, is the latest of five advocates appointed so far by Barnardos New Zealand, as part of a Ministry of Social Development initiative. The others are in Queenstown, Dunedin, Gisborne and Waitakere City.

“We welcome Sandra to both Barnardos and her new role as Child Advocate,” said Paul Ereckson, Team Leader of Barnardos Child and Family Services in Southland.

“As a Child Advocate, she will be called on to work along side cases of family violence that involve children and young people to make sure that the needs of those children and young people are addressed by an appropriate person or service,” said Paul. “Although the Child Advocates don’t manage individual cases, they will be responsible for ensuring that children’s voices are heard, their needs met and services followed through. They will also provide advice and training for the community agencies working with these children.”

“Child abuse is of great concern in this country. Children and young people who witness or experience violence in their home, live in difficult and potentially dangerous situations. They sense the tension that builds up prior to outbursts, hear the screaming, threats, yelling, and are quite often placed in the middle of adult arguments or manipulated to take sides.”

“It can be very traumatic, particularly if the violence has been ongoing. Children and young people often need a lot of support to help them deal with emotional and behavioural problems, feel secure and able to grow,” said Paul.

“Barnardos is very pleased to be involved in this initiative, which shows a commitment on the part of the Government to take action and provide a voice for children and young people and their right to live free from violence.”

The Ministry of Social Development initiative will see 45 Advocates appointed throughout the country over the next four years.


Background notes :

- For more on the Child Advocates initiative visit www.familyservices.govt.nz

- Barnardos provides a range of other services including the Footsteps to Feeling Safe programme (accredited by the Ministry of Justice) for children affected by or witnesses to family violence. This information programme uses a mixture of play, creative activities and discussion to deal with issues such as: the secrecy surrounding domestic violence; the loss of a parent/caregiver; managing anger; expressing feelings appropriately; and developing safety plans.

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