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Building a society where whänau are violence free

Hon Steve Maharey
14 March 2002 Speech Notes

Building a society where families/whänau are free from violence

Comments at the launch of Te Rito, New Zealand Family Violence Prevention Strategy. Ministry of Social Development, Welington.

Introduction

Tçnâ koe Tau mo tô mihi ki a mâtou.

Tçnâ koutou katoa.

Thank you for gathering here today to celebrate the launch of Te Rito, the New Zealand Family Violence Prevention Strategy.

I am aware that you all, in one way or another, made a significant contribution to the development of this strategy. I congratulate you on your efforts.

It is with great pleasure that I stand here today to present and formally launch it.

Rationale for strategy

Family violence is a crime. It is a significant social issue that directly affects the well-being of New Zealand families/whânau and the extent to which they can fully participate in society.

We know, in particular, that a substantial number of women and children in this country experience, or are potentially ‘at risk’ of experiencing, some form of family violence during their lifetime.

We also know that the effects of family violence on individuals, families/whânau, communities and society are significant.

Family violence in Aotearoa/New Zealand is unacceptable. The Government is strongly committed to eliminating it.

The strategy

The strategy provides an excellent starting point for addressing this issue.

Te Rito sets out the Government’s key goals and objectives, principles for future developments, and a five-year implementation plan for maximising progress toward the vision of families/whânau living free from violence. A vision, we as a nation must truly aspire to.

The strategy is broad, comprehensive, takes a multi-faceted approach, and goes further than previous initiatives.

A greater emphasis has been placed on early intervention and prevention initiatives. A good example of this is the action that focuses on preventing family violence from occurring in the first place, by raising public awareness through education.

There is also a strong impetus for ensuring approaches are culturally relevant, and recognising and providing for diverse needs and circumstances.

Te Rito builds upon the progress made by government and community organisations in responding to violence in families/whânau.

It is consistent with current and planned family violence prevention initiatives across the sector.

Te Rito is also linked to a variety of other key cross-sector strategies such as the Government’s Crime Reduction Strategy and Blueprint for the Care and Protection Sector.

Value of community input

We could not have achieved such a comprehensive and focussed strategy, without your willingness to participate and work collaboratively.

We know that much of the day-to-day work associated with family violence prevention is undertaken by the non-government/community sector. The Government values your considerable expertise and experience.

Developing innovative ways to genuinely engage the knowledge, wisdom and practical experience of the community sector and to reflect this within policy and decision making is crucial to producing initiatives that actually work for communities.

The Government recognises the importance of community input and has recently released a Statement of Intentions for an improved Community-Government relationship. The statement is intended to improve the way government agencies engage communities in policy and decision-making.

The process used for developing the family violence prevention strategy, demonstrates a style of working that is wholly consistent with the key directions of the Statement of Intentions. It is an effective model for others to follow.

I would like to acknowledge all of your efforts and thank you for the valuable contribution you have made and continue to make in preventing family violence.

I would also like to pay special tribute to the wide range of individuals and sectors in the communities who are not represented here today but who have also significantly contributed to the strategy.

The strategy is an excellent example of the value gained by seeking community input and by working collaboratively and in partnership with non-government organisations.

Continuing and building on these relationships as we go into the implementation phase is vital to successfully achieving the strategy’s vision, goals and objectives.

Implementation

Te Rito is more than just words on paper.

While there are a number of crucial planning steps to be undertaken in the coming months, there are a number of actions that will be implemented by the end of this year.

For example, advice is currently being prepared for Government on how to better cater for the needs of those people affected by family violence, who are not using the formal court process, but are seeking help anyway. Family violence is a crime. However, we know that most incidences of family violence are not reported. It is important that, where we can, we look at ways of getting in there early, and providing appropriate help for all those who seek it, before the pattern of violence becomes entrenched or escalates.

A mechanism to progress and monitor the strategy’s implementation will also be established by the end of June. This will help ensure that a cross-sector focus on, and commitment to, family violence prevention is maintained over time.

Work will also be undertaken, this year, to clearly identify resource/capacity gaps so we can ensure that we get the best possible use out of both current and future resources.

Conclusion

In closing, I would again like to thank you and acknowledge the significant contribution you have made to the development of this strategy. Your passion, commitment and dedication to preventing family violence is truly admirable and inspiring.

Let me assure you that the Government is strongly committed to ensuring that the Te Rito is successfully implemented. I am confident that the strategy’s vision, principles, goals, objectives and implementation plan will take us a step closer to a society where families/whânau are living free from violence.

ENDS

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