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HEART - stopping family violence before it starts

October 23, 2012

With support from Te Waipuna Puawai, a Mercy community development centre that has worked in Glen Innes for over 21 years, a new venture aimed at preventing family violence before it starts was launched in 2012.

Known as the HEART Movement (standing for Healthy Relationships in Tamaki), the initiative is backed by a network of 26 community and government agencies, and aims to promote healthy relationships and prevent family violence in the Auckland suburbs of Glen Innes and Pt England.

Welcoming guests at the formal launch of HEART in the Glen Innes Library was Kathryn Scott, chairperson of Te Waipuna Puawai which is one of the key network members of the venture.

“HEART is more a movement than a programmeHEART is more a movement than a programme,” she said. “It signals a break from the past, indicating that family violence is no longer acceptable.”

Kathryn Scott acknowledged support from several major funders, including the Department of Internal Affairs which is paying the salary of HEART coordinator, Cristy Trewartha. Formerly project manager for four years of the nationwide ‘It’s Not OK’ campaign, Cristy’s Master’s dissertation was entitled “Effective community mobilization to prevent family violence.”

The big difference between HEART and earlier programmes is that it is research-based, Cristy said. “Our community readiness model tells us where we are at, what resources are already in place and how well they are known.”

“The catalyst is to stop family violence; but our long-term goal is communities that actively grow loving, safe and supportive relationships.

“HEART is here for the long haul; our planning tool is designed for 20 years. And we will test our strategies to measure their effectiveness within the next 12 to 18 months.”

Cristy was introduced by Puamiria Maaka, manager of Te Waipuna Puawai whose Ellerslie-based centre provides the HEART coordinator with an office base.

There is genuine interest in the community about ending family violence, said Puamiria Maaka. “Family violence affects many families and impacts on the whole community. HEART is a whole-community approach. It gets community members on board, involving them in making changes.”

There is widespread concern in the community about family violence, Puamiria Maaka said, and everyone has a part to play in its prevention. “A series of street-level launches are planned, when we will hold local events to further engage with community members.”

The meeting was attended by local councillor Richard Northey, who brought apologies and a message from Auckland City Mayor Len Brown. “This is a grass-roots initiative which aims to be proactive, addressing the causes of violence before it occurs. HEART is based on local research; it draws on international experience but is tailored to local needs. The council is delighted to see this movement launched.” 

  • Half of all violent crime in New Zealand is family violence.
  • Police recorded 101,041 family violence incidents in 2009-10.
  • Police estimate that only 18% of family violence events are reported.
  • At least 74,000 children and young people aged under 17 were present at family violence situations attended by Police.
  • In 2009, nearly 75% of the 29 female murder victims in New Zealand were killed by offenders identified as a family member or partner.
  • One in three New Zealand women will experience physical, sexual or psychological violence at the hands of an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • The estimated economic cost in New Zealand of family violence in today’s figures is $8 billion a year.
  • Police in Glen Innes last year attended 647 family violence incidents – an average of 54 a month.
  • Among the victims last year, 3% were Asian, 9% European, 48% Maori, 38% Pacific Island and 2% other or unknown.
  • Of the 647 incidents last year, 558 victims were female, 88 were male. Among the offenders, 538 were male, 103 were female.