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Whakatane rally against child abuse

Media Release 16 November 2001

Whakatane rally against child abuse

Whakatane residents will be saying a resounding “no” to child abuse at a public rally this Sunday 18 November.

The rally is part of the pilot Everyday Communities programme, on trial in Whakatane until the end of the month. The programme, to be expanded to other parts of the country next year by Child, Youth and Family, is aimed at having local communities develop local solutions to local child welfare problems.

Those attending Sunday’s rally include Commissioner for Children Roger McClay, Whakatane mayor Colin Hammond and Child, Youth and Family’s Midlands national operations manager Ona de Rooy.

“Everyday Communities has been about acknowledging the fact that everyone is responsible for the safety and well-being of our children and tamariki,” says Child, Youth and Family’s public education team leader Marlane Welsh-Morris. “This rally gives people a chance to show their support publicly for the programme.”

Everyday Communities has been a very new approach in seeking community ownership of a public education programme. It has involved locally developed radio messages and collaboration between community partners to lift awareness of children’s issues and to promote positive parenting.

“The overall aim of the Everyday Communities programme has been to encourage local communities to discuss solutions to the particular child welfare issues that are relevant to their area,” says Ms Welsh-Morris.

“We’ve been really pleased with the support Everyday Communities has received from others in Whakatane, including Barnardos, James Family and Ngati Awa Social and Health Services. Working together, we hope to make a real difference.”

Gwenda Ruegg, Child, Youth and Family’s community liaison social worker in Whakatane, says anecdotal feedback is that Everyday Communities has heightened awareness of the range of services that can help at-risk children and also the way that agencies work together.

“People have also really appreciated the parenting tips from our Everyday Families booklet which have been broadcast on radio,” says Ms Ruegg. “Now with Sunday’s rally, Whakatane people themselves will be able to publicly show their support for children and ending child abuse and neglect.”

Ms Welsh-Morris says the rally comes shortly before TV3 screens a drama and panel discussion on 28 November aimed at heightening awareness of child abuse.

“Everyday Communities provides a model for how communities can take action against abuse and really make a difference for the well-being and safety of children.

“It’s great to see a range of organisations – from community groups to broadcasters -- doing more to promote children’s interests and to put across the message that adult behaviour needs to change if we’re serious about stopping child abuse.”

Sunday’s rally will begin at 10am at the Whakatane Memorial Hall in Rexmorpeth Park. There will then be a march to the new children’s playground on the riverbank where the Commissioner for Children will plant a tree.


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