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A small step in a big move to quell family violence

A Report on Gandhi Nivas in South Auckland

Mandy Morgan and Leigh Coombes

Editor’s Note: Gandhi Nivas is an initiative to ‘complete’ the approach to minimise, if possible eliminate totally, family violence among South Asian families. The following report, commissioned by Massey University looks at the concept, practice and challenges that face the collective effort in South Auckland. The following report, with minor modifications to suit our readership will appear as a serial in Indian Newslink. In this first part, the authors provide a background to family violence in New Zealand.

In New Zealand, family violence is a major social problem with intimate partners committing the majority of offences within families (Ministry of Justice, 2015).

In the most recent New Zealand Crime and Safety Survey, 26.1% of women participants reported incidents of intimate partner violence in a current or previous relationship and women of Asian, Pasifika and Māori ethnicities are reported to be particularly vulnerable to coercive and controlling behaviours from a current partner (Ministry of Justice, 2015).

Community Project

This research concerns the development of a community led project in Otahuhu, Auckland that provides early intervention services to men who have been bound by Police Safety Orders (PSOs) in the Counties Manukau.

PSOs are issued as an interim safety measure when police have reasonable grounds to believe that there is a risk of family violence, or that an incident of family violence has occurred. Persons who are bound by PSOS are not permitted to return to the home they share with protected persons (including children) or assault, threaten, intimidate or harass the protected person, or retain possession of firearms or any firearm license for the period of the order, which is up to five days and usually between two and three days.

A recent evaluation of PSOS (Mossman, Kingi & Wehipeihana, 2014) identified the need for improvements in the provision of emergency housing for bound persons and quick referrals to community agencies for both the bound person and the person at risk.

Gandhi Nivas was established in December 2014 to provide such emergency housing and rapid referrals.

Gandhi Nivas works

Gandhi Nivas provides men who are bound by PSOS or otherwise involved in Police matters related to family violence with emergency accommodation and the support of a Social Worker at the time of their intake.

They receive a needs assessment and brief counselling at Gandhi Nivas immediately.

They are also referred for early intervention counselling to Sahaayta Counselling Services who aim to engage the men and their families with support quickly.

Intervention courses are also delivered through Sahaayta.

Other referrals to organisations and support services in the community are provided as indicated by the needs assessment, such as Work and Income New Zealand and medical appointments, budgeting services, and access to legal services.

Good Practice

As a community led, culturally sensitive, collaborative partner in coordinated early responses to family violence within their community, Gandhi Nivas and Sahaayta Counselling Services already meet criteria for best practice in achieving better outcomes for victims and perpetrators. There are formal agreements in place between Sahaayta and New Zealand Police, and strong community leadership from Gandhi Nivas Board of Trustees, as recommended for effective coordinated community responses (Murphy & Fanslow, 2013).

A programme of evaluative research in partnership with Massey University School of Psychology researchers is another dimension of the commitment of key stakeholders at Gandhi Nivas to achieve effective interventions in their community.

The Current Study

The current study is the first research step in preparation for a collaborative formative and process evaluation of the services provided by Gandhi Nivas, Sahaayta and other organisations to which it refers clients.

Evaluative research provides the opportunity for assessing best practice and ongoing learning for effective interventions that change family violence outcomes in communities.

This study provides a preliminary statistical description of the demographic characteristics and patterns of family violence and associated occurrences and offences recorded by New Zealand Police for clients referred for intake to Gandhi Nivas between December 2014 and December 2015.

Aims

The aims of this project are to:

Provide preliminary data for assessing the effectiveness of interventions provided by Gandhi Nivas in subsequent years;

Examine the history of client involvement in family violence related occurrences recorded by New Zealand Police (Police), matters that result in a referral to Gandhi Nivas, and Police records of occurrences related to family violence and subsequent to intake at Gandhi Nivas.

 

Gandhi Nivas Clients Dec 2014-15
Distribution of Age by Decade
Age Grouping Number of Clients Percentage
Under 20 years 8 7.8
20-29 years 27 26.5
30-39 28 27.5
40-49 18 17.6
50-59 12 11.8
Over 60 9 8.8

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