The National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuges is deeply concerned that government funding may be withdrawn for a number of family violence initiatives including local Te Rito coordinators and the child advocates programme. These cuts will potentially put New Zealand women and children at risk.
“Child Advocates came about after several high profile deaths of children. They have now become the voice of vulnerable children and young people in New Zealand – who will speak for our children if we dismantle their roles?” says Denise Reynolds, Kaiwhakahaere.
The Child Advocates positions were established to ensure that a more consistent child focus was taken by child related agencies. They provide independent advice and support, to help ensure that children and young people are not exposed to further family violence, and to help limit associated negative impacts.
“Likewise, the loss of New Zealand’s 42 local Te Rito Coordinators would be a massive step backwards for family violence in this country,” says Women’s Refuge Chief Executive, Heather Henare.
“These networks are responsible for a wide variety of work from primary prevention through to local awareness work, networking and information sharing, professional training and development. Over half of the Te Rito networks also use their coordinators to make sure agencies work together to manage incidents of family violence. We know this sort of response to family violence can save lives.
“It is disappointing, given the impact that Family Violence has on the lives of so many New Zealanders, that the Government would consider cutting projects that encourage multi-agency working, joined up services and whole-of-community mobilisation. Community collaborations or networks are essential both for effective responses to family violence, and for the prevention of violence before it happens,” says Ms Henare.
Both Ms Henare and Ms Reynolds note the family violence initiatives that could be lost provide good value for the funding they have. This makes it even harder to understand why they would be stopped.