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National hui called for ethnic therapists and organisers

“It’s hard enough to talk about sex, let alone when things go wrong. Combine that with small communities and feeling different from the mainstream, and it’s a recipe for silence”. It is this silence that Silvana Erenchun Perez wants to change by bringing together ethnic communities to talk about sexual violence. The organisation she manages, Shama Hamilton Ethnic Women’s Centre, is co-hosting a national hui for ethnic therapists and ethnic community organisers. It is the first of its kind in New Zealand.

Despite the stigma associated with sexual violence, social worker Fariya Begum is excited to begin the conversation. “Ethnic workers are a source of knowledge. We are aware of the roots, soil and nourishment that our communities need to thrive”. She says that this hui is a chance to learn from other ethnic therapists and community organisers to provide improved services.

While there are many ethnic therapists working in both mainstream and ethnic specific organisations across the country, this is the first time that they have been invited to come together to discuss the treatment and prevention of sexual violence in their own communities. Diversity Counselling New Zealand, an ethnic service provider in Hamilton, is keen to participate. Vani Mills, manager for the service, explains “We’ve hosted meetings of ethnic counsellors working in Hamilton since last year, but this hui will allow us to meet practitioners from across the country and share everyone’s knowledge, wisdom and experience.”

The hui is set to establish a collaborative base for the new national sexual violence response service for ethnic communities. Angelo Libeau, Coordinator - National Collective of Rape Crisis & Related Groups, is also looking forward to attending. He says “This hui is a critical opportunity for ethnic community leaders and champions against violence to come together and collaborate across our various organisations and diverse communities to have the discussions needed for a strong response to sexual violence.” Angelo describes how ethnicity is one of the factors that impacts people's ability to access resources, and agrees that a "collaborative and intersectional approach" is the obvious way to begin the development of this “vital” project.

Vital is also how Anindita Dey-Sinha describes it. Dey-Sinha is an ACC-approved counsellor who has been working with ethnic communities for more than 11 years. She emphasises the importance of having a wide range of ethnic counsellors practising in New Zealand. “There are multiple ethnic cultures in New Zealand and we must provide clients with a diverse range of options so that their support systems are increased.” She says that ethnic counsellors expect to be attuned to deeper cultural issues such as the role of faith, gender roles and the impacts of migration.

These are all factors that need to be considered when communities act together to prevent sexual violence from occurring.

If you are an ethnic counsellor, therapist or community organiser interested in attending the national hui on July 24th, follow this link to fill in an expression of interest: https://form.jotform.co/91396992289882

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