New family violence resources and tools

Issue: Volume 101, Number 15

Posted: 23 November 2022
Reference #: 1HAYCp

The online services that provide support for survivors and people who may experience abuse have been given a refresh with new tools to help those struggling with family violence.

Family violence resources and toolsIn 2018 a joint venture was formed to improve the whole-of-government approach to family and sexual violence. In 2022, this became Te Puna Aonui, an Interdepartmental Executive Board that comprises a collective of 10 government agencies.

The work of the collective is guided by Te Aorerekura, the national strategy and action plan that provides a collective path for government, tangata whenua, specialist sectors, and communities to eliminate family violence and sexual violence.

One of the problems facing victims is access to help. While there is help available, not everyone knows how to access it or is able to access it. To help combat this, an expansion of digital services has been developed.

Edwina James, manager for the Ministry of Social Development’s Safe, Strong Families and Communities, has been responsible for steering the expansion of digital services.

“Since I’ve been here, there has been a gap that we’ve seen in the service portfolio. However, it wasn’t until Covid lockdowns that we were able to secure the opportunity to expand services digitally, once people realised that we had lots of people who were isolating at home unable to access face-to-face services.”

This realisation provided the green light to start developing initiatives that would help close the gaps.

One of the developments is re-designing the Are You OK website which now provides 24/7 telephone and webchat help for victims/survivors of family violence and those supporting them to be safe.

“The old site had become a catchall website full of all sorts of information, some of it useful, some of it not so useful. It was trying to serve everybody, but by trying to serve everybody at the same time, it wasn’t serving any one audience particularly well.”

Relevance for children and young people

The primary focus is providing information and pathways to support for adults in intimate partner relationships.

As such there is currently no content on the site specifically aimed at children or young people who are experiencing or impacted by family violence. However, all the information is written in plain English, so any young person accessing the site would still be able to understand and take away key messages.

“We don’t have content directed towards children, but there’s content that children or young people can interact with on these sites.”

Edwina comments that they recently sought feedback on other priority audiences for link) including young people. They will now be using the results of this research to improve the effectiveness of the site in helping young people access the information and support they need.

As well as the addition of the 24/7 helplines, two new tools have been added to the site. The first of these is Check It Out – a series of questions for people who are concerned about their relationship. The second is the Service Finder tool that helps navigate people to the most appropriate service for them, based on their location and needs. Check It Out is a tool that could be useful for teenagers in a relationship.

“We know that family violence within youth relationships can be a big problem. So, there is this tool which is kind of like a relationship quiz. People get asked a range of questions about what they’re experiencing. Then the site tells you what you may be experiencing and the types of steps that you can take.”

A new site that has been created is In Your Hands for people who use violence. The site was created as it was observed one of the other significant groups visiting Are You OK were people using violence or people at risk of using violence.

“Online there was a dearth of information for this audience. There was a lack of information for people that think they are being abusive, but seeking help,”
says Edwina.

Relevance for kaiako

While both sites are targeted towards these two audiences, there’s also information for those who are supporting people who could be experiencing violence or using violence.

All schools are required to have a child protection policy which sets out processes for kaiako to identify and report any form of abuse or neglect such as a disclosure by a student relating to family violence. However, Edwina says the sites can still be valuable tools for teachers because they are key people interacting with families and whānau.

“They could have a sense that something is going on, so I would say these sites are fantastic for them. One of the best features is the ‘Service Finder’ tool, which you can use if you suspect something could be going on and you’re wanting to reach out to a service provider.

“However, where there is a disclosure of abuse by a child or young person or concern about their wellbeing, any action should be discussed with the school principal or whoever is responsible at the school for the child protection policy.

“The tool is interactive, it walks you through the types of support you may need, for example if you need support services for children in a particular region for mental health as well as violence. It will then identify a range of service providers and will tell you what to expect if you were to call those service providers.”

Edwina also recommends that teachers share information about the sites. This can be done by making posters or including the information in newsletters. She feels that one of the important things to inform students and families about is the confidential chat service.

“I think one of the best ways would just be to explain that if anything was happening or if they did want to speak to somebody, we’ve got staff trained to support people of all ages, and they can just chat anonymously.

“Especially if some of the content isn’t specifically designed for children or young people, this could be a way for them to interact with people that would be able to speak to them about their circumstances.” 

Family violence resources and tools

Resources and support

Family violence affects many people in our communities. It may include physical or psychological abuse. If you are feeling unsafe, help is available. Call Police on 111 or visit link).

Family violence can include physical or psychological abuse. If you are worried about someone you know, call Police on 111 or find out how to help at link).

Harmful sexual behaviours like harassment, assaults and abuse affect many people. If you are concerned about someone’s safety, contact Safe to Talk for confidential support and information about how to help on 0800 044 334, text 4334 or visit link).

Service Finder: link).

In Your Hands: link).

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 11:32 am, 23 November 2022

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