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Benson Pope: No more violence, no more excuses

27 June 2006 Speech Notes

No more violence, no more excuses

Address to Matariki lighting the night with hope event

Good morning everyone. My thanks to the previous speakers, Police Minister Annette King and Chief Judge Russell Johnson; and welcome to my fellow speakers, Families Commissioner Rajen Prasad, and my Parliamentary colleague Dr Pita Sharples.

I acknowledge and welcome everyone here today. I’m pleased to have been able to assist with breakfast and you will be pleased that I didn’t have to cook it for you! I want to thank the people who have organised this event, to everyone who has held a light this morning representing the people we know have been damaged or killed by family violence. Thank you to everyone who is committed to stopping the violence.

Since 1996, Counties-Manukau has had 144 deaths as a result of family violence. 144 deaths – that’s about 14 a year. Imagine if we saw these killings out on the street. Imagine if, at least once a month, we saw a woman or child beaten to death, in front of our eyes, as we walked to work or the shops or school.

Of course, we don’t see it. That’s the nature of family violence. It doesn’t happen in front of our eyes. It happens in people’s homes, in the very place that should be safest. It happens where no one can see, no one can intervene, and no one can help.

This event, Matariki lighting the night with hope, is about bringing family violence in Counties-Manukau fully out in the open. It’s about doing away with the blame, excuses, and denial behind which violence hides. Today is about openness and honesty. It’s about action, hope, and new beginnings.

That journey will involve everyone. Community, government, Maori, Pacific, and Pakeha. We are all responsible for ending family violence.
We are all committed to working together, across all the boundaries, to build strong and safe families. To build nurturing families that care for every one of their members. Families that are connected to and supported by their communities. Families that are free from violence, abuse and neglect.

Budget 2006 invests a total of $5.8 billion operating expenditure and $460 million capital in the Government’s priority theme of families – young and old. My colleague Annette King and I are members of the Ministerial team that is leading work on this priority, and within that team we belong to the group that is focused on family violence.

This $5.8 billion includes $68.6 million being delivered over the next four years to programmes to help reduce violence. Thus funding will enable us to build on and enhance the many collaborative initiatives that are already working to eliminate family violence from our communities.

Family Safety Teams, a joint initiative between Police, Ministry of Justice, Child Youth and Family Services, and community groups, enable each agency to co-ordinate their intervention, monitoring, advocacy, and information.

The Family Violence Intervention Programme, based in Work and Income, is enabling people to disclose family violence and be referred to the right sources of help.

Strategies like Strong Pacific Families, under the umbrella of the Te Rito Family Violence Prevention Strategy, are targeting the needs of specific communities and identifying the right people in the community to lead work to eliminate family violence.

These are all vigorous, wide-ranging initiatives, and they’re all directly aimed at ending family violence. But they’re not enough on their own. Family violence has many complex causes and requires multi-dimensional solutions. Family wellbeing, too, is multi-dimensional. To end violence, we must build wellbeing -- and to build wellbeing, we must end violence. They’re not separable from one another.

Parents and caregivers need the jobs and the skills which enable them to support their children. Vulnerable families need help at the earliest possible point.

There has been an increasing awareness within our communities of the number of families who are devastated by family violence. If we are to turn around the appalling statistics our country has for domestic and family violence then as a community our attitudes must change.

We want all New Zealanders to grow up in safe and secure families and communities. We want strong families free from violence living in strong communities. Family violence is a critical problem to address because its high incidence and human cost are unacceptable.

Here in Counties-Manukau, you are showing New Zealand what needs to happen to free families from violence. You are showing that ownership, honesty, and commitment are vital.

We as the government cannot combat this issue by ourselves, we need your help. Together, we can remove the screen of blame and denial. We must no longer allow family violence to hide, only then we will be able to truly protect the most vulnerable and defenceless in our communities.

Thank you for your time and your courtesy this morning. Thank you much more for the contribution you will make in the future.


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