Initiative on family harm having positive effect

An initiative established to combat family violence in Dunedin celebrated its first birthday yesterday, and already it is starting to have an impact on family harm incidents across the city.

Whangaia Nga Pa Harakeke is based at the South Dunedin Police Station and brings together police, iwi, and social agencies to provide support for people affected by family violence.

The initiative was launched because family harm had become a crisis. Police were responding to between 10 and 12 family harm incidents in the city per day.

Programme manager Senior Sergeant Craig Dinnissen, of Dunedin, said the programme had grown exponentially from last year, and now had a good collective of 24 non-government organisations (NGOs) and government agencies, working together to help families.

"It’s positive. It’s really heartening to see us able to respond post-incident, to provide wrap-around services and support and navigation to our families that are struggling through tumultuous times."

Whangaia Nga Pa Harakeke programme manager Senior Sergeant Craig Dinnissen celebrates the...
Whangaia Nga Pa Harakeke programme manager Senior Sergeant Craig Dinnissen celebrates the programme’s first birthday with participating social agencies, iwi and police, at the South Dunedin Police Station yesterday. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON

Previously, there were just 3 or 4 different agencies working together to help families.

"But now we have that shoulder-to-shoulder contact with a partner agency, to discuss a family that needs either parenting advice, or budgeting advice or life skills.

"Instead of it being over the phone, it can now be a face-to-face conversation about how we can support this family."

Snr Sgt Dinnissen said some of the assistance Whangaia Nga Pa Harakeke had been able to provide, had reduced repeat calls to families.

"That’s a long process. Some will take longer to accept the help, because there are still barriers in society to acknowledging family harm, but we’re seeing improvements."

Whangaia Nga Pa Harakeke is gradually being introduced throughout the country, albeit in slightly different ways to match the needs of each community.

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