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Pacific leaders share solutions to prevent family violence

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Pacific leaders from churches and social services around New Zealand came together for the first time at the Pasefika Proud National Pacific Leaders Fono, hosted by the Ministry of Social Development, to find solutions to end family violence in Pacific families.

The Pasefika Proud tagline ‘Our Families, Our People, Our Responsibility’ was at the forefront throughout the Fono, held in Auckland on June 20-21.

Liz Tanielu, National Director, Pacific at the Ministry of Social Development, says the fono generated "strong, courageous conversations around what was needed to take our families to another level".

"The aim is to develop responsive services that work for our families. Government is embarking on transformative change to how it supports vulnerable children and their families. We have an opportunity and responsibility to facilitate and enable families to be true partners in that process."

Speaking as part of the Pacific Leaders Address, Reverend Dr Tokerau Joseph, First Church of Otago, spoke of the need to find solutions within the community.

"We cannot afford to be silent, we cannot afford to be invisible, and we cannot afford to be irrelevant when it comes to responding to the needs of our Pacific people, particularly those who are vulnerable," he said.

Four innovative responses from the frontlines were showcased at the event by two Pacific providers of health and social services - The Fono (Auckland / Northland regions) and the Aere Tai Pacific Midland Collective (Midland region), and two faith based organisations - Churches Unite and Affirming Works Limited.

Innovations showcased included designing services to wrap around a family and get to the root causes of family violence.

Tevita Funaki, Chief Executive of The Fono, said as part of the Pacific community they "have to address the systemic issues contributing to family violence, including poverty and housing, poor health and disparities in education. Doing the same old thing in the same old way will not be sustainable. We need to innovate to stay relevant".

Hon. Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga attended the fono and applauded the innovation in bringing social service providers and churches together.

"It shows there’s some great work going on to combat family violence," he said.

"We’ve learnt a way we can work together collaboratively to bring about better outcomes for families."

Liz Tanielu concluded: "Faith plays such an important part in the resilience that our families have, and it’s up to us to work with them to provide them with the tools to develop their skills even further."

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