29/05/2018

Tauranga people set sights on creating a Violence Free Future

Violence Free Future is a grassroots initiative, a “movement of change” born here in Tauranga Moana by locals, for locals.

How did this project come about?

It is a fact that our family harm, mental health and addiction rates are soaring. In addition, it is well understood that service providers within the social sector are under immense pressure to provide programs, counselling and support with limited resources and funding.

The need for some community ownership of this social problem has become obvious to those involved in dealing with the problem, and those affected by it.

The good news is there are many people wanting to make this ownership happen. With support from Socialink, the Western Bay of Plenty agency which connects the social sector, this ownership is being initiated in the form of an awareness program which is currently called the ‘Violence Free Future’ (already often shortened to the ‘VFF’) project.

“To start influencing a turn around in the statistics, to enable change and a reduction of ‘harm’ in general, the entire community need to have an understanding of what is going on, what we are facing, the damage is being caused” says Lisa Mackinnon, Family Violence Response Coordinator who manages the Tauranga Moana Abuse Prevention Strategy. “This problem is not just occurring in low decile / Maori populated areas of Tauranga Moana.  These issues are happening everywhere – across all sectors, socio economic groups, ethnicities, and suburbs … yes, these incidents are occurring in Matua as much as Gate Pa.”

TMAPS (Tauranga Moana Abuse Prevention Strategy) is a collective made up of over 100 agencies within the Western Bay all working (in some form) in the prevention and service provision for those affected by family harm, sexual violence, mental health and addictions.  Every one of them is under immense pressure to provide services – being very much “bottom of the cliff” focused – i.e. an incident has occurred and these agencies provide programmes, counselling, support, emergency housing etc, to help after the fact.

For six months Socialink, Akina and Venture Centre have been working with the TMAPS co-ordinator and some of the collective to get a grass-roots local movement started and create a social enterprise strategy to increase resources for this important social change work. Socialink’s partnership with Akina and Venture Centre to pilot a Collective Impact Income Generation Project has been the trigger to get the VFF project off the ground. The goal of Socialinks pilot – to support organisations like the TMAPS collective who want to really work together to address a serious social problem.

Starting the VFF movement is the first step towards a social enterprise to increase the financial and human resources available to do this community-led work. It’s ultimate aim, to increase the prevention activities at the “top of the cliff” and involve all citizens in Tauranga and Western Bay in the work, so current funding and resourcing can remain focused on support services at the bottom, and ultimately decrease the need for them.

What are the benefits of this project for those organisations/clubs/schools/church groups etc to get involved in this project?

Those who want to get involved in this early stage can be identified as founding members of a local grassroots initiative tackling a very real issue that in some way, impacts on the majority of our community.  For example, it might be affecting your primary school-aged child who is being bullied in the playground at school, or your teen who is accessing pornography on the internet or has a gaming addiction at aged 15.  Perhaps this is a chance to help create support to help your Aunt and her gambling addiction, deal with the sexual harassment in your workplace or the intimidation and financial control a partner has on your friend in her home behind closed doors that only you know about.

Being a member of VFF and being part of this project will increase access to free resources, trainings and presentations addressing the issue and aiming at prevention. They will be known as being intent on making a positive difference in the community, for their employees/members and encouraging conversation and discussions to be had about family harm and all of these interfacing social factors we have around us in today’s world. “It is about local people helping local people, and providing an added benefit of aiding corporate social responsibility.”

“When TMAPS was successful with our application for the Socialink Income Generation Pilot Project I saw an opportunity to create a new entity focused on awareness across all sectors, not just social services and the statutory agencies dealing with Family Harm and Sexual Violence”, says Lisa.  “Through my work with TMAPS and within the community I have come to realise just how many members of our community have absolutely no idea of the Family Harm, Addiction, Sexual Violence and Harrassment issues we have in the Western Bay and just how common it is.”

“Creating a new locally focused cross-sector entity to educate and inform will help ensure conversations are being held in the boardroom, churches, schools, business - through to your local sporting club. With the support of our partners, technology and products aligned with the resources and training TMAPS can provide, we feel ready to take a leap of faith and make this happen.”

On the current working group, the VFF core team have the support of TCC/WBOP Safer Communities, WBOP Police, BOPSASS, BOPDHB alongside individuals, counsellors and business owners who are dedicated and determined to see positive change in this space.  “Education through awareness is key and starting conversations is of utmost importance” adds Lisa.

“We have many layers of resource/education and information that will add to this but instead of relying on Police and Agencies to “fix” these issues and lambasting them when more negative statistics are released, let's get a grassroots plan of action happening and start conversations – all of us … everywhere.  The future is limitless with where we can take this and we have the drive and confidence to make positive change and turn our statistics around … to educate all members of our community so we are not all working or living in silo’s and for the rest of the country to stop and say “hey … what’s happened in Tauranga?  Instead of having the 2nd highest reported rates of Family Harm incidents outside of Auckland, they now have the lowest”

Together, we can do this.

How you can help.

There is a project brief available for Branding, Logo, Graphic Design and Website development to begin to create a presence and focal point for the VFF project. The collective is currently applying for seed funding for its initial set-up. If you would like to get access to the brief and submit a proposal to take the creative lead on this important social change initiative (this will be a paid project) please contact jo@venturecentre.co.nz.

Who is already involved?

TCC/WBOP Safer Communities
BOPSASS
NZ Police Victims Manager
Welcome Bay Baptist
Family Works
Parenting & Life Skills NZ
Counsellors/Social Workers

With support from NZ Police, WBOP DHB Family Violence team, Local Businesses and many individuals passionate about wanting community driven change.

The VFF project is supported by Socialink through the Collective Impact Income Generation Pilot in partnership with Akina and Venture Centre.

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