New team, approach to family harm starts well

Whangaia Nga Pa Harakeke is a joint iwi and police pilot initiative focused on family harm

Whangaia Nga Pa Harakeke is a joint iwi and police pilot initiative focused on family harm

PROGRESS: The Whanau-centric approach by the Whangaia Nga Pa Harakeke programme has helped people affected by family violence since it started in February. Programme director Senior Sergeant Greg Brown(pictured) said the team were encouraged by the results so far.
File picture

A NEW police team set up to target the high rate of family harm in Tairawhiti have been excited with the results achieved since they started their work here in February. Whangaia Nga Pa Harakeke is a joint iwi and police pilot initiative with a 23-strong team focused on this large problem that affects so many.

Tairawhiti has the worst family violence, or family harm as it is now referred to, rates in the country on a per-head-of-population basis. Police get called to more than 3500 cases of family harm a year in this region — 70 a week on average.

“Whangaia Nga Pa Harakeke is the result of a year of planning to focus solely on family harm cases,” said programme director Senior Sergeant Greg Brown. “There were four staff previously focused on family harm, so this is a significant investment by police and we are excited about the initial results achieved with whanau.”

It has been based out of the Nga Wai E Rua building on the corner of Lowe Street and Reads Quay. Snr Sgt Brown said the interests of whanau were at the heart of it.

“Iwi have provided three kaiawhina who work alongside us to ensure tikanga Maori and whakapapa are at the forefront. Iwi chief executives reminded the team that a family strong in tikanga and well-grounded with their whakapapa are happy and healthy, and they do not feature in the negative statistics. That is essentially what we are after — a happy, safe and healthy whanau.”

Family harm challenges well documented

The challenges with family harm in Tairawhiti were well documented, he said.

“Our stats are proportionately the worst in the country and there is no hiding from that. But there are a number of initiatives being guided by the governance of Manaaki Tairawhiti that aim to turn those stats around,” Snr Sgt Brown said. “We have changed our triage and case management practices to ensure we better co-ordinate our approach to whanau.”

Hauora Tairawhiti, Women’s Refuge, Oranga Tamariki (formerly Child, Youth and Family) and Corrections have also been involved.

“The biggest change in practice is our desire to be whanau-centric.”

Working to the whanau's needs

Snr Sgt Brown said the team’s kaupapa was to engage with the family, work through the issues, then actively support them to navigate their way to well-being with a co-ordinated response to their goals and needs.

“We work to the whanau’s needs, not ours. We need people to be safe, and sometimes those discussions need to be challenging, but trying to impose outcomes on whanau has not worked in the past. So we need to change our approach, and the ‘cup of tea’ approach works. Listening to whanau experience is where the magic is. Our people walk alongside whanau because we know it can be challenging to navigate through ‘the system’. To have immediate support can make all the difference.”

Te Runanga o Turanganui a Kiwa chief executive Ronald Nepe challenged the team when he said: “No more NFAs (No Further Action) — that means we have run out of options, and that cannot be the case.”

Take responsibility to speak up

Snr Sgt Brown said the team want to help whanau well before a crisis, rather than wait for an emergency call.

“The earlier we can help, the safer everyone can be — though naturally we still deal with the crisis stuff. But when you think about families who experience harm, there are people who see things that should concern them.”

That could be a family member, a friend, a school teacher, a sports coach, he said.

“In the past people have avoided calling for help because it is ‘not their business’, or they did not want people getting in trouble or children being removed from homes. Too many times we see people speaking up after someone has been killed or seriously injured. Silence is no longer acceptable, because in that silence immeasurable psychological and emotional harm occurs. We all have to take responsibility to speak up.”

Impact on children significant

Snr Sgt Brown said as troubling as the situation was for the adults, the impact on the children was significantly worse.

“Children die every year at the hands of someone known to them but, for those living in a family harm environment, their brain development is significantly affected. If we want to give those little eyes a chance to aspire to what their potential is, then we need to act much, much sooner.”

It was too early to claim any obvious results from the programme, he said.

“But we are noticing a change in experience for our families. Frontline police notice fewer calls to the same addresses. So anyone who has concerns, please give us a call or call anyone you trust to seek the help you need. Help is available and I can assure you that the approach will be with that family’s best interests at heart.”

Snr Sgt Brown said the team recognised the challenge in front of them was massive.

“But we have some amazing people in our team who are really committed to making a difference.”

A NEW police team set up to target the high rate of family harm in Tairawhiti have been excited with the results achieved since they started their work here in February. Whangaia Nga Pa Harakeke is a joint iwi and police pilot initiative with a 23-strong team focused on this large problem that affects so many.

Tairawhiti has the worst family violence, or family harm as it is now referred to, rates in the country on a per-head-of-population basis. Police get called to more than 3500 cases of family harm a year in this region — 70 a week on average.

“Whangaia Nga Pa Harakeke is the result of a year of planning to focus solely on family harm cases,” said programme director Senior Sergeant Greg Brown. “There were four staff previously focused on family harm, so this is a significant investment by police and we are excited about the initial results achieved with whanau.”

It has been based out of the Nga Wai E Rua building on the corner of Lowe Street and Reads Quay. Snr Sgt Brown said the interests of whanau were at the heart of it.

“Iwi have provided three kaiawhina who work alongside us to ensure tikanga Maori and whakapapa are at the forefront. Iwi chief executives reminded the team that a family strong in tikanga and well-grounded with their whakapapa are happy and healthy, and they do not feature in the negative statistics. That is essentially what we are after — a happy, safe and healthy whanau.”

Family harm challenges well documented

The challenges with family harm in Tairawhiti were well documented, he said.

“Our stats are proportionately the worst in the country and there is no hiding from that. But there are a number of initiatives being guided by the governance of Manaaki Tairawhiti that aim to turn those stats around,” Snr Sgt Brown said. “We have changed our triage and case management practices to ensure we better co-ordinate our approach to whanau.”

Hauora Tairawhiti, Women’s Refuge, Oranga Tamariki (formerly Child, Youth and Family) and Corrections have also been involved.

“The biggest change in practice is our desire to be whanau-centric.”

Working to the whanau's needs

Snr Sgt Brown said the team’s kaupapa was to engage with the family, work through the issues, then actively support them to navigate their way to well-being with a co-ordinated response to their goals and needs.

“We work to the whanau’s needs, not ours. We need people to be safe, and sometimes those discussions need to be challenging, but trying to impose outcomes on whanau has not worked in the past. So we need to change our approach, and the ‘cup of tea’ approach works. Listening to whanau experience is where the magic is. Our people walk alongside whanau because we know it can be challenging to navigate through ‘the system’. To have immediate support can make all the difference.”

Te Runanga o Turanganui a Kiwa chief executive Ronald Nepe challenged the team when he said: “No more NFAs (No Further Action) — that means we have run out of options, and that cannot be the case.”

Take responsibility to speak up

Snr Sgt Brown said the team want to help whanau well before a crisis, rather than wait for an emergency call.

“The earlier we can help, the safer everyone can be — though naturally we still deal with the crisis stuff. But when you think about families who experience harm, there are people who see things that should concern them.”

That could be a family member, a friend, a school teacher, a sports coach, he said.

“In the past people have avoided calling for help because it is ‘not their business’, or they did not want people getting in trouble or children being removed from homes. Too many times we see people speaking up after someone has been killed or seriously injured. Silence is no longer acceptable, because in that silence immeasurable psychological and emotional harm occurs. We all have to take responsibility to speak up.”

Impact on children significant

Snr Sgt Brown said as troubling as the situation was for the adults, the impact on the children was significantly worse.

“Children die every year at the hands of someone known to them but, for those living in a family harm environment, their brain development is significantly affected. If we want to give those little eyes a chance to aspire to what their potential is, then we need to act much, much sooner.”

It was too early to claim any obvious results from the programme, he said.

“But we are noticing a change in experience for our families. Frontline police notice fewer calls to the same addresses. So anyone who has concerns, please give us a call or call anyone you trust to seek the help you need. Help is available and I can assure you that the approach will be with that family’s best interests at heart.”

Snr Sgt Brown said the team recognised the challenge in front of them was massive.

“But we have some amazing people in our team who are really committed to making a difference.”

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Claire Makirere - 2 years ago
What a well-written piece!!!

Lisa Simmy - 2 years ago
Prayers go out to all affected xxx

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