Standing Up for the Children

In a New Zealand first, the thoughts and words of children on how individualised Family Violence advocacy makes them feel has been used in a landmark report.

The report shares findings from a study into a Family Violence service (Kokihi nga Rito, KNR), designed for children ages 5 - 12. 

In some positive figures, 85% of children who received KNR support said they felt safer from harm, with the same number feeling their well-being had improved. 

Around 17% of the Tamariki involved in the study identified as Pasifika, consisting mainly of Samoan, and Tongan participants as well as a few who identified as Cook Island or Niuean. 

Those involved in the study, such as KNR pilot managers and Kaiarahi Tamariki (KT) staff accepted more needed to be done to help Pacific families suffering from family violence, as in the past too little attention was paid to the children, with the focus being mainly on the mums affected. 

But the study had helped change that outlook. 

One KT worker from a Pacific Island refuge, explained how their attitude had changed, for the betterment of Tamariki. 

"Most of the time, it was the mum, we couldn't really pay attention to the kids. But now, talking to my colleagues, (we are saying) the kids have the same rights, and they are as important as the Mum," they said. 

"It is good for us to hear how the Mum, and the kids, feel when it is time to make a decision for their wellbeing as a family as a whole ... we never paid much attention to the kids' voice (in the past)." 

While all those involved in the program are happy with the results so far, they all accept there is still a long way to go. 

One manager, who took part in the study said while they were full of praise for the pilot program, the 18 months it was in operation was not long enough to break the cycle of long-term habits. 

"The success for us, I guess, is we are making an effort and challenging some of these Pacific Island norms," they said. 

"It's a huge job, not easy, but if we build the right relationship with the right people, and make sure we do not disrespect any spaces, then we hope, in the long run, that this will be effective." 

LINK TO REPORT – Evaluation of Kōkihi ngā Rito