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Taskforce Continues Drive To Reduce Family Violence

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Waitakere City Council's commitment to combat family violence is set to continue beyond Auckland local government reform with the launch of the Waitakere Taskforce on Family Violence and its Strategic Plan.

Keynote speakers at the 30 July launch include the Minister of Social Development Paula Bennett, Maori Affairs Minister Dr Pita Sharples and Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey.

The plan will include the vision and goals of the group in the coming years and also outline a range of initiatives to ensure all Waitakere children, family and whnau have healthy, respectful and stable relationships free from violence.

The taskforce consists of a steering group of senior public servants and community leaders who oversee project-based activities and encourage coordination and collaboration amongst the many agencies involved in reducing family violence in Waitakere.

Mayor Harvey and Dr Sharples established the original Mayoral Taskforce in 2007 in response to the increasing levels of family violence and child abuse in Waitakere. The Waitakere Taskforce on Family Violence will take over this role.

"Waitakere City Council has led the way in creating awareness about family violence. More and more of our people are saying "it's not okay"," says Mayor Harvey.

"The taskforce has empowered the community to take a stand on this issue. That work isn't going to stop on October 31.

"Our collaborative approach has seen great results. The new Auckland Council needs to take up the mantle and build on the taskforce's excellent work across the whole region."

Among the taskforce's planned initiatives is the appointment of a family violence co-ordinator to increase the expertise of school staff to identify at risk students.

The coordinator will also be responsible for coordinating the referral of at risk children and young people to the most appropriate agency for help and support.

The taskforce has also developed a training workshop for those agencies dealing with family violence to recognise the specific issues of children who have witnessed or are victims of family violence experience.

An early intervention project at Hoani Waititi Marae is another initiative which has seen the marae introduce a new child abuse policy and training for staff and students to identify the signs and what to do if they suspect someone is being abused or are being abused themselves. It also incorporates parenting skills training for whnau.

A special Maori family violence response service is also planned to support agencies that refer incidents to police.

Both these initiatives are a direct response to the disproportionate representation of Maori who make up 30 percent of family violence notifications to police.

Co-chair of the taskforce's steering group and chair of its Maori Roopu, Bob Newson, is pleased its work will continue.

"A whole range of agencies deliver family services in Waitakere and by working with the taskforce we have been able to identify what gaps there are and develop solutions that will work," he says.

"The amount of collaboration and good will in Waitakere is amazing; and means we can make a real difference when it comes to family violence."

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