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Bennett’s Community Responsibility Wins Praise

Media Release 3 February 2009

For Immediate Release

Paula Bennett’s Community Responsibility Wins Praise

Jigsaw Family Services has praised the actions of the social development minister, Paula Bennett, to help a 23-year-old man turn away from a life of crime.

The man, Viliami Halaholo, is the partner of Paula Bennett’s daughter and the father of her two-year-old grandchild. He lived in her home for nearly two years while awaiting trial for grievous bodily harm and is serving a 4½ year prison term.

Jigsaw CEO, Tau Huirama, says Paula Bennett’s actions showed a strong sense of responsibility to her family and community.

“As a mother and grandmother Paula Bennett played a vital role in supporting Viliami Halaholo to mature and significantly change his life. She accepted he’d made mistakes then helped guide him into staying out of trouble and finding work.

“This kind of family support, often missing in our communities, is essential in bringing about change,” says Tau Huirama.

Mr Huirama says it is not Jigsaw’s business to comment on whether the minister should have told the Prime Minister about letters she’d written in support of Viliami Halaholo.

“What’s important to us is that Paula Bennett saw potential in Viliami and stood firm on his need to turn his life around – especially for his partner and child,” says Mr Huirama.

Jigsaw, a national office dealing with family violence and child abuse, has a membership of 32 community agencies working fanatically to help families provide what’s best for our children.

“Over and over again we see people like Viliami taking two to three steps forward and one back. If our family members are going to change we have to stick with them and not give up,” says Tau Huirama

“I applaud Paula Bennett’s gutsy commitment to her own family and community.”


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