• Georgina te Heuheu
Women's Affairs

Calling All Good Men

Aku mihi ki a koutou, My greetings to you all.

Thank you Merepeka for your kind introduction.

I would like to begin by acknowledging the work that you and your colleagues at the National Collective of Independent Women's Refuges do on behalf of women, their families and communities.

The largest provider of protection against violence in New Zealand is the Women's Refuge movement. Your work is vital to the well-being - and often the survival - of women and their children. This is difficult work and largely voluntary. I do not underestimate the value of your contribution to our families, communities and our nation.

I am pleased to be with you today to launch the Women's Refuge Annual Appeal. I bring a special greeting from the Prime Minister, Jenny Shipley, who is unable to be with us today but whose support for the Refuge movement is well known.

I would also like to acknowledge my Parliamentary colleagues here today. As women Members of Parliament we are privileged to have issues which unite us that cross-over party boundaries. The safety and well-being of women and children is such an issue.

The latest statistics on family violence tell us in no uncertain terms of the need for services such as those provided by Women's Refuge:

- There are 56 safe houses as part of Women's Refuge
- Refuge had 47,418 contacts with women and children
- Refuge provided 112,400 beds for overnight care throughout the country
- Refuge received 282,611 telephone calls about their services

- Around 80 percent of violent crime in New Zealand is family violence (Roper report)

Statistics from the 1996 Women's Safety Survey showed that
- 21 percent of men have physically abused a woman partner in a twelve month period, and 35 percent have physically abused a woman partner at some time in their life, and
- twenty-five percent of Maori women with a current partner had experienced at least one act of sexual or physical abuse in the past twelve months and Maori women are also more likely than non-Maori women to have received medical or hospital treatment as a result of their partner's violence

- In 1998 over 3,100 applications for non-violence and non-molestation orders were made to the Family Court.

The government is committed to reducing domestic violence. The implementation of the 1996 Domestic Violence Act is now being reviewed and the results of the evaluation will be available by April next year. As part of the Crime Prevention Strategy a "Statement of Policy on Family Violence" in 1996 outlined objectives and actions to reduce family violence and address the concerns of victims. The government also provides assistance at the community level through funding of various community projects including national funding of Women's Refuge.

Through the Crime Prevention unit we have also recently funded:
- the mid North Women's aid and refuge group in Kaikohe who run whanau development programmes focused on communication within the family;
- A Safer Pacific Island Akld Region programmes and resources to prevent violence workshops and;
- A National Stopping Violence Services hui in Te Kuiti last month that looked to strengthen their network and develop best practice for Maori service providers looking at family violence

There are no excuses for family violence. No excuses whatever. While it is hugely important to support women and families through violent situations, our response to family violence must engage the whole community, men and women, and must be geared as much to the front end as to the "bottom of the cliff.

We need everyone in our community to influence a change in behaviour. "this is not a women's issue this is an issue for families and communities."

It is an issue for everyone and especially for men. That is why today I am calling on all "good men" to actively work to bring about a change in the behaviour of those men who think they can continue to be violent.

For these men are the brothers, fathers, sons or the mates of all good men. I'm calling on all good men not only to support this appeal this week but for the other 51 weeks of the year to actively discourage and where necessary to come out strongly against those of their brothers who behave in this way, so that we can stop the violence occurring in the first place.

For a long time this issue was kept hidden, thankfully the issue can no longer be kept hidden. Greater numbers of women aren't standing for it any longer, but neither should our men. Good men know that family violence is unacceptable and I want you to come out against it also.

Not to remain silent, but to know that your participation is critical to stopping this scourge.

It has been said in the past that, "All it takes for evil to triumph is for one good man to do nothing."

Good men in our society must take greater responsibility and leadership for this issue. They must be doing everything they can to stop their brothers, fathers, sons, mates, whoever from hitting their wives, partners and their children.

And together we can all bring about a change of behavior. We as a society have done that in the area of drink driving. In the last ten years people everywhere have helped in the fight against drink driving. That has resulted in a change of behaviour. The battle against family violence must now be approached in the same way. All of us, especially good men must bring about that change.

Thankfully many men are taking responsibility for this issue, by either leading or being involved in programmes to stamp out family violence.

The Te Watea Trust - a support service for Maori Men at risk is such a group.

It was funded by the Community Funding Agency in 1987 and deals with families under stress in the Porirua and Kapiti areas. It grew out of Maori women recognising the need to rebuild and strengthen their families. Their focus was not on separation from their partners but to work through issues and gain support from others for their men.

Another group called "He Waka Tapu Trust" was set up in 1996 to work with families in Dunedin. It works specifically with Mäori on stopping violence within their family. The service works on the philosophy of whakawhanaungatanga - or building relationships to find solutions.

Another group from the South Island called Te Puna Manawa brings families together to examine and address the belief systems that support violence. The group challenges and supports men to take responsibility for their violence towards their family and teaches them how to begin the healing process.

Dr Pat Ngata in Tolaga Bay, also runs a very effective programme called "Men for Anger". It's one of a number of Maori initiatives around the country that addresses anger and violence within families.

There are also programmes which work toward encouraging male positive male behaviour.

One such programme is called "Man Alive" running in Auckland which runs a number of initiatives using a holistic approach and in particular runs programmes to encourage good "fathering". Another is a programme known as "Big Brother" which aims to provide positive role models for boys.

I commend all the many programmes being run up and down the country such as these.

I am pleased to be here today to represent the Government to show support for your work. However, responsibility for addressing family violence lies with us all. Government, and non-government organisations and communities must work together. As I have said, good men are critical to addressing this matter, not just for this week, but for every week of the year.

To symbolise the launch of this year's appeal week I would like to invite my parliamentary colleagues to join me, so together we can release these balloons.