Speech at Connections! Hui

Tēnā koutou katoa

Firstly, thank you Fariya for introducing me, and to Silvana and the team for inviting me today and for your efforts in organising the Connections! Hui 2023.

Huge thanks to the team at Shama for all that you do to support and to awhi ethnic women- your support services, community development focus and advocacy work.

It’s great to be back at a hui that brings together practitioners from our ethnic communities who are working in culturally responsive services and offers you a platform to connect, to share experiences and knowledge and to learn from one another.

Can I thank you all for your work. These past few years have been particularly tough and there is evidence that indicates when times are tough, they’re often even worse for victim/survivors of family and sexual violence.

For those of you I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting previously, work to prevent and eliminate family and sexual violence within our ethnic communities and more broadly and services that offer victim/survivors intervention support, this work is incredibly important to me. Most of my work prior to entering parliament was in the family and sexual violence prevention space, particularly working with women from ethnic communities.

And it’s a privilege for me now as the Assoc Minister for Social development and employment, to have responsibility for MSD’s family and sexual violence work programme.  

This includes MSD’s contribution to supporting the development and implementation of Te Aorerekura, the National Strategy to Eliminate Family Violence and Sexual Violence.

The Joint Venture, now known as Te Puna Aonui, engaged with ethnic, migrant, and former refugee communities to ensure that their voices informed the development of Te Aorerekura.

Hui were held with a range of groups, including family violence and sexual violence service providers. It was also vital that the voices of ethnic, migrant, and former refugee women were heard in these hui.

  • This engagement process highlighted several issues, including the need for:
  • better data on violence experienced within ethnic communities
  • services that understood cultural diversity and experiences
  • recognition of systemic discrimination experienced by ethnic, migrant, and former refugee communities.

Te Aorerekura recognises these issues. They are in fact, threaded throughout the National Strategy, and responses to these are included in the first Action Plan.

Some of the work that MSD is currently doing in this space, includes:

working with an Ethnic Communities Content Working Group to make the Are You OK website more relevant and accessible for ethnic communities.

In October last year I launched a suite of new digital tools to support people affected by family violence. The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted a lack of alternatives to in-person support, including for those experiencing family violence. We committed $4m through the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to develop support tools that are relevant to the communities they serve. That means people are able to access help whenever they need, regardless of where they are. MSD is also working to make these tools relevant to the needs of different communities of users.

MSD is also working with the Ministry for Ethnic Communities and partners in the sector to develop a new Ethnic Communities Violence Prevention work programme. Having worked in this sector for years, I was determined for us as government to invest in building knowledge and capacity in this sector.

Part of this work has seen the trialling of community-led, ethnic-specific and location-specific family sexual violence initiatives.

It’s also focused on building an evidence base so that we collectively have a better understanding of what’s needed in and by our ethnic communities.

So finally, I want to end where I began. By acknowledging the work you all do and the importance of platforms like this hui in bringing people from our ethnic communities together to share your knowledge, your expertise and skills.

Naku te rourou, nau te rourou, ka ora ai the iwi.

With your food basket, and my food basket, our people will thrive.

Ultimately, we all have a role to play to create a society where everyone feels safe, valued, respected, a sense of belonging and is supported to participate and thrive. And we can only do it together.

Thank you for having me once again. I hope the rest of the hui is productive and that you gain from it and enjoy it too.