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Police Officers from the Counties Manukau District alongside local business owners have donated thousands of tins of food for families in their areas. The Family Violence focused initiative aims to reduce stress on families over the school holiday period and prevent incidents occurring in the home.
Acting Prevention Manager, Inspector Alan Shearer said, "The idea was to identify families in need, and help. Family Violence is sometimes described as a symptom to other problems and by helping to eliminate those problems the risk of other crimes including violence is prevented."
It's the school holidays and Police want the kids to enjoy them. It can be a tough financial time for families when having children and their friends at home often leads to an empty fridge and cupboards.
"For us bringing in a few cans each to help our communities and reduce the pressure on families is a small gesture but one that will help," said Mr Shearer.
Counties Manukau Police are continuously working with other agencies, and the community to support and protect vulnerable families. Engaging more effectively and working in partnership with other agencies and the community is a critical part of the Police approach. Solving problems that families have and ensuring sustainable solutions are in place is vital.
Chairperson of Randwick Park Residents Association Waina Kapa, otherwise known to most Randwick Park residents as Aunty 'Y' is a member of the community that Police engage regularly. She knows near on everyone within her community and is very passionate about making it a safe environment for kids.
"Children come to me all the time, most of the time they come to me first to ask for advice. I don't believe in violence, I was raised that way and think children deserve more. Kids need education and inspiration. It's them I worry about, as long as they are safe I'm happy," she explained.
Waina said, "My biggest achievement for the community has been getting a GP to run a surgery from the Randwick Park Community House, it's been a great service for our families and assisting their health."
Waina's latest success was working alongside other partners and local families to secure the new development of the reserve in Riverton Drive. She spoke to the families and asked what they wanted. Football pitches and netball and tennis courts were the top of the list. The construction for this will go ahead in October.
"Everything beautiful that grows is a future for our kids. I might be gone in 20 - 40 years but the trees around us will be here," says Waina about her dedication to making her area a safe place to live.
Inspector Shearer says: "Police are victim focussed and want to break the cycle of Family Violence. For us it's not just about locking up the offender, it's about ensuring families are provided with sustainable solutions that prevent incidents occurring in the first place.
The food parcels will be delivered over the next week by Counties Manukau Neighbourhood Policing Teams. Neighbourhood Policing Teams work with communities in priority locations to solve problems and prevent crime.
Counties Manukau Police urge the community to report all incidents of Family Violence offending. It doesn't matter how minor you think it is Police want to help. Report Family Violence to Counties Manukau Police by calling 09 261 1300 or call the 24hr family violence helpline on 0800 456 450 or 24 hour Victim Support 0800victim. To report information anonymously call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
The three cases below describe how the Counties Manukau Police District works with families
Case Study #1
Couple, 30s. Two children, one a new born baby.
Another beautiful family dedicated to each other and their kids.
• 3 previous reported incidents of family violence
• New born baby
• Financial stressors
• Alcohol addiction
• Previously very distrusting of police
• Cultural issues prevent disclosure
• Previous conviction for family violence
• Intergenerational violence
This is a family who have come to New Zealand from India. For the husband; violence in the home was normal, and he grew up both as a victim of domestic violence himself whilst also watching as his mother and siblings were beaten. He said: "it didn't bother me much then. I think differently now."
He has battled alcohol addiction.
There has been police involvement with this family for a few years now, and one particular incident led to a lengthy court process, trial and conviction.
Police recognise that arrest and especially trials are tough on everyone involved and we try hard to support our families through this. Unfortunately for this particular family the process really alienated them and led them to swear, "never to call police again."
It's taken a few months but by working with Temple leaders, our family violence team have rebuilt the relationship with this family - in fact this family who not so long ago would ignore any police officer, no matter how loud they banged on their door and who even moved address to get away from us – now open their front door and greet us as they see us on the driveway.
A real turning point for this family was the instigation of proactive welfare checks. We task our officers to just pop by addresses; to check that everyone is OK, and see if there is anything we or one of our partner agencies can do to help. It's a chance for police to build relationships with families not based on arrest and forced entry.
It's really lovely to see this family doing so well. They are looking to start up their own business and the husband has not drunk alcohol for sometime- and as his wife tells us, "not even to celebrate the birth of our son!"
We don't expect for any family that it’s "happy ever after." It’s always incredibly hard to come to a new country, adopt a new culture, new set of rules, overcome addiction, raise a family, provide for that family, all while learning a new language.
By working with this family they know we understand life stresses, and if things do get tough we are there to help.
Case Study #2
Solo mum in her 40s, with four kids
Moana is about to be a grandmother. She is high risk for family violence.
Three of her children are to a previous relationship and her youngest to her now ex partner.
• 9 reported incidents of family violence
• High Risk Family Violence
• Dependant mother
• Traumatised victim
• Children exposed to violence
• Victim distrusting and feels let down by police and other agencies
• Limited whänau support
• Years of psychological abuse
Police met Moana 18 months ago. Her partner Huri, and father of her youngest child had been arrested after he had assaulted her, with bail conditions not to associate.
Moana was pretty much house bound. She didn't like to go outside, she thought the streets were full of murderers and rapists, but equally she didn't want us to help her move, she told us we couldn't hide her anywhere that 'he' couldn't find her.
Little things were really hard for her. Money was really tight, and her way of coping when things were tough was to stay inside. This meant lots of days away from school for her son who also had a chronic illness.
Police get this. For anyone who has been the victim of long term domestic violence, whose home is a war zone, the outside world is even more terrifying. Moana didn't actually live on a bad street.
We tasked our Neighbourhood Police Teams, and our Family Violence Teams to proactive welfare visits. Moana had officers driving up and down her street all hours of the day and night. We wanted for her to feel safe.
If it was raining we'd even get someone to swing by and take her son to school.
One day Moana came to a staff training day and told us her story.
She was really nervous. We'd promised her lunch. She explained she was only there because she was hungry.
Without her partner there, her income had literally halved. She was left with all the bills at their Housing New Zealand home. Moana had run out of food.
After Moana's first marriage ended, her self esteem took a dive. She made a few decisions which left her feeling worse, before meeting Huri.
Huri was very controlling, an angry drunk, and violent. After he knocked out her teeth, her esteem plummeted further. She lost clumps of hair when he dragged her around their home, and with the stress it didn't grow back.
Moana taught us that a good police officer cares. She doesn't need officers to storm into her house and drag the offender away - this just makes her feel guilty. She doesn't want police to get cross when she doesn't turn up to court, or refuses to give evidence. She just wants us to act like we care, and not just go through the motions.
We asked her, what makes a good officer? She tells us that the people on the other end of the phone when she dials 111, the ones that stay on the line and listen to her, the ones that ask questions.
Before we worked with Moana she had alienated herself from just about everyone, and had lots of debts including with Work and Income.
When you are living day by day, even the smallest incident is overwhelming. When her son smashed a neighbour’s window, when she borrowed a car and it broke down, when she had to buy stationery for school. It was all too much. Fortunately Salvation Army and Victim Support helped with food parcels. We spoke to Work and Income on her behalf.
We engaged Moana with the Marae, and Family Works were "brilliant" with her son.
At the moment Moana is working part time. It’s her first job in many years. Her son is doing really well at school. Things are still tough. She is in temporary accommodation until she is on her feet. Next year she hopes to find full time work. School holidays are hard, finding the money to pay for holiday programmes while she works. There's not much left in her pay to save and she is still living day to day, watching her petrol gauge and hoping she has enough to last the week.
She rolls her eyes when we tell her how amazing she is. How clever and articulate and amazingly brave.
She is everything we joined the police for.
Case Study #3
Young couple 19 and 20 years, new baby.
This is a really lovely devoted young couple- just starting out.
They only needed a little hand up and for police this meant putting them in touch with some of the services and people in our community.
• No reported incidents of family violence
Previously distrusting of police
Not formally engaged with any services prior to police intervention- no GP, no health provider, no community support
Limited familial support
This is a young couple involved in a committed and very loving relationship.
They are just getting started.
When we met Mike he'd just had an accident on his skateboard. He looked a little worse for wear.
We wanted to call an ambulance, but Mike said, "No." He had no money to get back from the hospital and no way to pay for the ambulance.
We offered to drive him to A&E but he wouldn't go - he said he didn't have the bus fare home. He said he'd texted his partner and she was walking from home to get him.
We drove Mike to meet his partner, Rose who was heavily pregnant. This lovely couple were at that time about a month away from their first child, and even though Rose had had a tough pregnancy she was still prepared to walk the distance to Mike and then to walk him home.
We couldn't convince Mike to get medical help, and he didn't have a GP.
We gave them a ride home, and left them contact details.
It was pretty apparent that this young family didn't have much, and we were particularly worried about them having a new born at the height of winter.
We approached the medical centre within closest walking reach of their home and explained their situation. The clinic said to bring the young man in.
The next day we returned to find Mike hopping around in his home. Rose had taped his injuries with masking tape and bandaged his arm.
We took him to the medical practice where he was given free treatment.
We also managed to find a heater, a dehumidifier and a couple of other items for this young family's flat which would help them with their baby.
Rose and Mike now have a beautiful 3 week old daughter and everyone is doing really well.
The whole family is registered with a medical practice, and have a GP within walking distance; they are working with Plunket who in turn will hand them to Family Start; and they have a community of police officers they know they can call on.
This story really highlights prevention first at it best.
Before crime has even occurred we are there, working with families and service providers building lasting trusting relationships, creating a safe environment for future generations.
NB: There will be filming opportunities with Inspector Alan Shearer, Randwick Park Residents Association Chairperson Waina Kapa and the Neighbourhood Police Teams distributing the parcels on Monday 2nd July.
Randwick Park Residents Association Chairperson Waina Kapa will be running a community programme at the Randwick Park School. The programme is targeted at children aged 6 - 12 years. This is where she will be available for a piece to camera.
The Neighbourhood Police Teams will be loading up their vans and distributing the parcels within their Areas alongside Family Violence Staff.
Inspector Alan Shearer will be available for comment at the Manukau Police Station, 42 Station Road, Manukau. He is also available for comment for the purpose of radio and print media.