Women's Refuge Appeal Week – a chance to make a difference

Friday 15 July 2011, 3:46PM
By Hekia Parata

The Women’s Refuge Annual Appeal Week is a timely reminder that family violence is not ok, and all women and children should be able to live free from violence, says the Minister of Women’s Affairs, Hekia Parata.

The Women’s Refuge Annual Appeal runs from 18-24 July and aims to raise awareness about family violence and inspire us to think about how we can each make a difference.

“It is an opportunity to think about how we can stop family violence in our communities,” says Ms Parata.

"The Government can and does help but it's family and whanau, neighbours and communities who need to take action to stop violence they see or know about. That will make the real difference to mothers and children.''

Family violence is an issue we can’t afford to ignore. The reality is that 1 in 3 women in New Zealand have experienced partner violence according to the 2006 New Zealand Crime and Safety Survey (NZCASS).

“The impact of family violence is widespread and long-lasting. Violence affects women’s physical and mental health and affects their ability to participate in education and employment.

“Family violence has heavy social and economic costs and is estimated to cost New Zealand up to $5.3 billion each year.''

International evidence shows that family violence increases after natural disasters and the increase may last up to a year - something
Christchurch Refuge has experienced first-hand following the earthquakes.

“Christchurch Refuge reported its safe houses were full within 24 hours of the recent June 13 quakes and have stayed full ever since. This is on top of a 30 per cent increase in refuge statistics since September’s earthquake.

“Friends and whanau are the closest to people experiencing family violence and research shows this is who people turn to first when they need help. We can help by encouraging them to get help.

“Family violence is never acceptable and this week is a reminder that we can all make a difference every day,’’ says Ms Parata.