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Christchurch to be designated Safe Community

MEDIA RELEASE 5 September 2008

Christchurch poised to be designated an International Safe Community

Christchurch will next month be designated an International Safe Community based on criteria developed by the World Health Organisation.

This follows a recent successful site visit by delegates from the Safe Communities Foundation New Zealand in its capacity as a Certifying Centre for the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre on Community Safety.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says this is a significant achievement for the city and one which recognises the hard work and commitment by 21 agencies and the community as a whole to work together to create a safer city.

“Three years ago Christchurch launched the Safer Christchurch Strategy, the city’s first community safety strategy, aimed at making Christchurch the safest city in New Zealand.

“Focussed on injury prevention, road safety and crime prevention, the city-wide Strategy has guided Christchurch as it has worked towards accreditation as a World Health Organisation Safe Community.”

Mr Parker, as Chair of the Safer Christchurch Interagency Group which oversees the Safer Christchurch Strategy, says he is proud of the city’s achievements under the Strategy.

“The Group has made incredible progress in all three key areas – road fatalities and crashes are trending down, inner city crime and violence is being kept at the lowest growth rate for a metropolitan city in New Zealand, and while some injury rates are rising, this is a positive result of a campaign to promote better reporting by ethnic groups.

“What is most rewarding has been the commitment and genuine desire by everyone involved to work collaboratively to form partnerships which target injury prevention and community safety, and the whole of community responsibility for creating a safe city.”

Safe Communities Foundation New Zealand Director Dr Carolyn Coggan says a Safe Community title does not mean a community is “perfectly safe”.

“What it does mean is that the community has systems and processes in place to address safety, and all sectors of the community are working together to increase the overall safety of its residents and visitors.”

Dr Coggan says Christchurch has shown over many years that it has developed sustainable programmes – both local initiatives and those which build on key national organisational strategies – to promote safety in response to the needs of the local community.

Canterbury Police District Commander Superintendent Dave Cliff says Christchurch’s accreditation as a Safe Community is the result of strong relationships between key agencies and a commitment from everyone to create a better and safer community.

“I applaud everyone who has played a role in helping Christchurch to achieve this prestigious world status. Through our shared goal to make Christchurch a safer place to live, work and play, we have engaged in joint planning, implementation of strategies, information sharing and joint decision-making. It is this collaborative leadership on safety that has been critical to our success.”

Canterbury District Health Board’s General Manager of Community and Public Health Evon Currie says the Board is committed to protecting and improving the health and well-being of its community and it was important there is a collective commitment and shared responsibility for safety in the city.

“Communities which are safe give people a sense of belonging and of being valued; as a result these are likely to be healthier places than those where people feel unsafe and excluded.

“I congratulate everyone on achieving World Health Organisation accreditation – it is notable achievement.”

ACC Injury Prevention Consultant Cory Stewart says ACC congratulates the Christchurch agencies that have come together to work in partnership to support the achievement of this international recognition.

“ACC is proud to be part of the strategic body of stakeholders who work hard to ensure Christchurch is a safer place to work, live and play.”

Christchurch is only the 9th, and the largest New Zealand area, to be accredited as a Safe Community. The only other Safe Community in the South Island is neighbouring Waimakariri District.

• Christchurch will be designated a Safe Community in October when the city hosts the 17th International safe Communities Conference. The ceremony will be officiated by Chair of WHO Collaborating Centre on Community Safety Promotion Dr Leif Svanstrom and Safe Communities Foundation New Zealand Director Dr Carolyn Coggan.


What is a Safe Community?

Safe Communities is a World Heath Organisation (WHO) concept that recognises safety as “a universal concern and responsibility for all”.

This approach to safety promotion and injury prevention encourages greater co-operation and collaboration between non-government organisations, the business sector, central and local government agencies and creatively mobilises local community members to action.

The WHO Safe Communities model creates an infrastructure in local communities for addressing injury prevention initiatives through the building of local partnerships.

The programme was initiated in Sweden in the 1980s by the World Health Organisation’s Collaborating Centre on Community Safety Promotion.

WHO Safe Community Criteria:

In order to be designated as a WHO Safe Community, communities are required to meet the following six criteria:

• An infrastructure based on partnership and collaborations, governed by a cross-sectional group that is responsible for safety promotion in their community.
• Long-term, sustainable programmes covering genders and all ages, environments and situations.
• Programmes that target high-risk groups and environments, and programmes that promote safety for vulnerable groups.
• Programmes that document the frequency and causes of injuries.
• Evaluation measures to assess programmes, processes and effects of changes.
• Ongoing participation in national and international Safe Communities networks.


Who are Safe Communities in New Zealand?

The following communities/cities have been Safe Community accredited in New Zealand:

• New Plymouth
• North Shore City
• Porirua
• Tauranga
• Waitakere
• Waimakariri
• Wellington
• Whangarei

Christchurch is the largest New Zealand city to be awarded Safe Community accreditation and will be only the second Safe Community in the South Island. The other is neighbouring Waimakariri District.


What is the Safer Christchurch Strategy?

Making Christchurch a safer place to live, work and play is the aim of the Safer Christchurch Strategy. Launched in September 2005, it is the city’s first community safety strategy, designed to make Christchurch the safest city in New Zealand, through a programme targeted at injury prevention, road safety and crime prevention.

All initiatives under the Strategy have seen Christchurch work towards World Health Organisation Safe Community accreditation. Accreditation acknowledges a city or community’s efforts to promote safety and reduce the incidence and/or severity of injuries.

The four specific goals of the Strategy are to:
• Reduce the incidence of injury in our community.
• Enhance safety on our roads.
• Enhance safety from crime through preventative and supportive actions.
• Support safety and injury prevention through collaboration and coordination.

The Strategy is overseen by the Safer Christchurch Interagency Group and reviewed every three years to ensure new and emerging trends are covered by the Strategy, along with new action plans for the four primary goals.

Safer Christchurch Strategy recognises the whole community has a role to play in injury prevention and safety promotion, with a strong emphasis on collaboration and coordination. It also favours a proactive rather than reactive response to the city’s needs by anticipating and responding to issues early.

The Safer Christchurch Interagency Group partners are:

Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC)
Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB)
Christchurch City Council (CCC)
Christchurch Police
Department of Internal Affairs
Families sector representative
Healthy Christchurch
Housing New Zealand
Ministry of Education
Ministry of Health
Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs
Ministry of Social Development – Child Youth and Family
Ministry of Social Development – Family and Community Services
Ministry of Social Development – Work and Income
New Zealand Fire Service
New Zealand Transport Agency
Older Persons sector representative
Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu
The Department of Corrections
Youth sector representative


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