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Stopping Violence Needs Men

A lack of male counsellors and social workers in the family violence sector is hindering efforts to effect change.

National Network of Family Violence Services Kaiarahi/CEO Merran Lawler believes male practitioners are essential.

She is concerned about ongoing problems with their recruitment reported by specialist agency members.

“There’s a lot of agencies in our network who lack male practitioners and that affects men who want or need to seek help.

“Stopping violence must start with the men who use violence in order to have any chance of changing the status quo,” she said.

“We know male staff can have a big and positive impact on how men embrace programmes to change behaviours and attitudes.”

Tauranga Living Without Violence Collective Trust CEO Paula Naude confirmed it was hard to attract male practitioners.

Naude said her agency had run recruitment campaigns several times in the last year with the hope of employing a man.

“We’re recruiting at the moment but have only had females apply,” she said.

She said a lot of other agencies had the same problem and that pay rates affordable by NGOs could not compete with those paid by government agencies.

Women often worked to help the cause, she said, while men stuck with the mentality of being the breadwinner.

It meant a lot of agencies comprised female staff only, which had led to some people labelling them as “a bunch of men-hating women”.

She said having male staff was vital.

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“Ideally, what we’d like is for sessions to be co-facilitated by a woman and a man.

“It’s good to have a woman challenge what the users of violence are saying and have the male facilitator back her up.

“But the small number of male staff is not for lack of trying.

“I can count the number on one hand.”

Changeability agency counsellor Jeremy Logan has worked in the sector for the past 20 years.

He said the lack of male practitioners in the sector continued to be noticeable with both low pay and the man-box, which stereotyped ‘men’s work’, making it difficult to recruit.

“There’s around a quarter of men to three quarters of women. It is a caring, nurturing role – not typically inside the man box,” he said.

RISE agency counsellor Michiel van Boekhout (CORRECT) agreed it was a general problem.

He said RISE was lucky to have six male practitioners working at their agencies in Nelson and Motueka.

He said the pay rates did not attract many men but that was only part of the reason why there were so few.

“Family violence work is not obviously a ‘sexy’ occupation,” he said.


National Network of Family Violence Services – see www.nnsvs.org.nz for help to find a local family violence service.

Shine domestic abuse services (external link) – free call 0508 744 633 (9am to 11pm) for help with domestic abuse or how to help someone else.

Hey Bro helpline (external link) – free call 0800 439 276 for 24/7 help for men who feel they’re going to harm a loved one or whānau member.

Need to Talk? 1737 (external link) – men can free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.


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