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Domestic violence problem bigger than Sky Tower

Domestic violence problem bigger than Sky Tower

SKYCITY’s Sky Tower in Auckland will be lit up in white on Monday evening Nov 25th at 10pm, on the eve of White Ribbon Day. The anti-domestic violence network SAFTINET (Safer Auckland Families Through Intervention Network) and the White Ribbon Campaign are behind this initiative to call attention to the message that violence against women is unacceptable.

“Domestic abuse is in the news on a daily basis. People are becoming more aware of the problem thanks to White Ribbon Day and other public awareness campaigns. But I believe that most people out there still don’t know how big the problem is – just how many victims of domestic abuse are controlled, injured and terrorised on a daily basis, and just how many men still don’t get that it is not acceptable to treat women like this. Hopefully, this tower of white light on the tallest man-made structure in the southern hemisphere will help shine a light on the problem and encourage more New Zealanders, and especially more men, to take action to make it stop,” says Aaron Steedman, Shine’s No Excuses men’s stopping violence programme coordinator.

NZ Police attend a domestic violence report every 6 minutes, and 1 in 3 New Zealand women will experience abuse from an intimate partner in their lifetime. John McGrath, White Ribbon Ambassador and Shine supporter, is the brother of Patricia Ann, or “Wowo”, McGrath, who was killed by her ex-boyfriend in 2013. Since Wowo’s death, John and his wife Kate have been actively leading a wider movement for change.

John says, “I don't want anyone else to go through what we have in losing my sister to domestic violence and so I feel we need to do whatever we can to make a difference. I think it's vital to leave no stone unturned and am happy to support Shine in working towards ending this devastating aspect of our society”.

In recent years there has been a steady increase in the number of men choosing to attend stopping violence programmes voluntarily, as a result of the It’s Not OK campaign’s message “It’s OK to ask for help”. Shine and other providers of these programmes are struggling to meet the needs of so many extra participants, and we urge the government to consider urgently how to fund these men so that they do not have to be turned away when seeking help.

Lighting up the Sky Tower in white for White Ribbon Day is also a symbol of hope. “I couldn’t do this work with men in our stopping violence programme if I didn’t believe that people can change. I firmly believe that the work of Shine and other anti-domestic abuse organisations will result in a huge shift in our culture over time. A generation from now, I hope that there will be no need for someone doing my job,” says Steedman.

Staff and volunteers from Shine and Supportline Refuge will be standing alongside other SAFTINET organisations on the Sky Tower grounds on Monday night to promote the White Ribbon Day message, including handing out white ribbons to the public. Shine staff and volunteers will also be handing out white ribbonson Tuesday the 25th (White Ribbon Day) with Auckland District Health Board staff at the main foyer of Auckland Hospital from 10am – 2pm, and at Eastridge Shopping Centre in Mission Bay with Orakei Health Services staff from 10am – 6pm, joined by some of the Vodafone Warriors players from 5-6pm.

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