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Owen Glenn gives $8m to support children and families

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Owen Glenn has returned to New Zealand for the launch of his much anticipated biography but more importantly he says he's back to support children and families and to raise attention to New Zealand's family violence and child abuse statistics and his commitment to reverse them.

Glenn's Foundation (The Glenn Family Foundation) has been in operation for over 30 years and includes a vast array of projects from leprosy to child prostitution and trafficking but it is the New Zealand's high statistics in child abuse and family violence that are currently on Glenn's radar.

"It is shocking to think in a beautiful country like New Zealand these problems exist but the growing statistics are alarming and it's simply not good enough. People don't realise that the cost of domestic violence and child abuse to the New Zealand economy is the equivalent of rebuilding Christchurch every four years - forever. It's a national embarrassment."

Glenn has had his Foundation focusing on a project, which he launched today in Otara, that centres on helping to build stronger communities.

"I believe that if a community is strong, its people are strong. Strong communities means people care about each other, they look out for one another, there's a sense of pride in where they live and where they go to school and work. Strong communities mean less crime, safer streets, less domestic violence and children that are safe from abuse and harm. Children in strong communities grow up in loving families with supportive neighbours. In such environments children are able to engage in learning, and grow up to be confident, happy and productive adults and parents themselves."

Glenn says he has been concerned for some time about New Zealand's growing statistics in child abuse and family violence citing an opinion piece he wrote about it for the New Zealand Herald in October last year.

"It didn't raise a peep out of anyone so I'm going to 'put my money where my mouth is' launching a project that is centred on children and young people, their families and the neighbourhoods and community in which they live. The aim is, using Otara as the test case', to help the Otara community to provide its children and young people with a safe and supportive environment in which to grow and prosper."

Glenn says each of our children deserves the right to become a confident, well-educated adult who is able to earn a decent living and be a good parent.

"We ALL owe our children this. This is a simple goal but not always an easy one to achieve. What has become most apparent from the research is that while there are lots of programmes out there, unfortunately there is a significant lack of connection and coordination amongst them. Many are subject to short-term and sporadic funding contracts and winning funding and complying with the reporting requirements of these contracts becomes the principal objectives, rather than what they are really trying to achieve."

Glenn says while his Foundation's focus is with the suburb of Otara but Glenn stresses he is not singling them out.

"The answer is simple - I lived here long ago and when I was a young married man with children and I remember some of the things I saw at that time going on around me. In fact, it was the violence and maltreatment of children that I saw then, that helped me decide to leave this country to go and live in Australia. That was a long time ago and I know, since then, some things have changed."

Glenn says what was then mostly a European/Pakeha suburb is now a place where the overwhelming ethnicity is Maori and Pacifica. There has been a great deal of positive changes in Otara as a community.

"But I know that it is still a community that suffers from extremely low incomes, high unemployment, high welfare dependence, high levels of transience and truancy from school, high levels of teenage pregnancy, high levels of substandard and crowded housing, and poor childhood and adult health.

"We have to start somewhere, so where better than Otara, a place where I once lived and still have an affinity with. �Everyone agrees it is a 'Human Right' to live free from violence, yet for many New Zealanders, their home is where they are most at risk."

Glenn is so committed and fired up about this he will fund a Commission of Inquiry to get to the bottom of why�domestic violence and child abuse still remains such a major issue in New Zealand and to solve this issue.

"Together, with other interested parties I will fund it because I'm not willing to let whom-ever is in Government hide behind the cost as a barrier, to avoid embarrassment. I'll work with people who share my passion in this area to foot the bill to make sure it happens.�

"It will be money well spent, not just reducing the pain and harm inflicted on victims of domestic violence and child abuse, but reducing the $8 billion per year family violence costs New Zealand directly and indirectly."�

Glenn has his Foundation has met hundreds of community organisations doing wonderful work, but they need:

A long-term funding streams, not intermittent contracts. A national strategy they can feel a part of, so their local work, every day, contributes to solving this national problem.

Glenn says the projects his Foundation will get involved with will aim to pull people together.

"As I said earlier, it's all about building stronger communities, 'for community by community'. We all need to wake up because this is a national epidemic which needs to be stopped as soon as possible."

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