Negotiator's intention resolving conflicts ambitious

Truce founder and director Jo Tiszavari is offering a conflict resolution service in Dunedin. Photo: Edith Leigh
Truce founder and director Jo Tiszavari is offering a conflict resolution service in Dunedin. Photo: Edith Leigh
When it comes to goals, they don't come much more ambitious than what Jo Tiszavari wants to achieve.

The former police officer and police negotiator wants to reduce suicide rates and family harm through the launch of her new Dunedin startup, Truce.

''I know it's huge but you've got to start somewhere. That's where my heart is,'' Ms Tiszavari said.

Truce was a conflict resolution service that offered services both at home and within the workplace.

Family harm within New Zealand reportedly happened every five minutes, while people spent most of their life at work which was why a good or bad work environment had a huge impact on employees and the community's wellbeing, she said.

She hoped the profits made from working within businesses would be used to provide free services to families in need.

''Psychological safety is the key to wellbeing. My aim is to provide the tools needed to reduce harm, in both the workplace and at home.

''I left the police because I wanted to do more than pick up the broken pieces of family violence.

''I want to help people before things become critical to their safety and wellbeing,'' she said.

A first-generation New Zealander, born to a Hungarian father and English mother, Ms Tiszavari, who is in her 50s, grew up at Andersons Bay in Dunedin.

She joined the police when she was 39 and one of her first cases upon graduating was the murder of Sophie Elliott.

The death of the young Dunedin woman at the hands of her former boyfriend was something that ''sits with you forever''.

''I can remember thinking, and I still say, I have never seen a movie or read a book as horrific as that real-life thing. And it happened here in Dunedin,'' she said.

During her career in the police, during which she had her nose broken by a gang member and was also head-butted, she saw things that she never thought would happen in the city.

''I really appreciate the idea that ignorance is bliss - because it is,'' she said.

Training to become a police negotiator was a great thing and she believed it was something every police officer should learn.

It taught her about active listening, how to listen to people and help people in a crisis, she said.

When she left the police, Ms Tiszavari went to India where she did a silent meditation retreat. That taught her the likes of resilience, accepting things for what they were, completeness and observation. It also put her own life in perspective.

On her return, she started working in restorative justice, specialising in family harm, and she facilitated more than 300 family violence court referrals.

Police received about 680,000 calls a year about family harm, and only 20% of family harm incidents were reported.

A ''massive'' number of people suffering from family harm got no help, she said. For those who did end up going to a restorative justice meeting, it was the first time they had spoken about the harm.

''It's like the elephant in the corner of the room,'' she said.

Taking a restorative approach was about communication and honesty and providing a safe place for it to happen.

She decided to start up Truce to help deal with tough conversations that needed to be made to stop conflict before businesses lost money and before harm was caused.

She was keen to work with any business where there was conflict at low level ''before it becomes big''.

It it was not dealt with early, then it had a ripple effect and caused many more issues.


Contact Truce
Jo Tiszavari

Cell:020 4035 8458
8 Stafford Street
Dunedin 9016




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