01 Mar How you can make a difference
There are some amazing and passionate organisations working inside the family violence prevention sector. Taranaki Safe Families Trust has 24 collaborative agency members working as part of the campaign. There are groups and individuals who dedicate many hours to the cause and strive to change our country’s culture. New Zealand has one of the worst records in the developed world, and statistics back up that fact.
It may sound like a cliché, but these organisations cannot address the problem by themselves. We don’t live in a vacuum. A community issue requires a community response, and therefore everybody plays a part. Everybody can contribute. Everyone can be part of the solution.
The point I’m trying to make is you don’t need to be specifically working for a family violence prevention agency to make a difference. The roots of family violence In Aotearoa are intertwined with our societal attitudes, behaviour and cultural norms. Family violence is allowed to thrive because of what we allow as being normalised and acceptable – and what isn’t. It’s the passing comments we know are wrong but we keep quiet to avoid the awkwardness. It’s the sexist or racist jokes we hear and don’t dismiss as being in poor taste. It’s knowing a neighbour or a good friend is at risk and not doing anything because we think it’s interfering and not our problem. it is our problem. It’s everyone’s problem.
The key word we want to focus on is change. A change in our cultural attitudes. A change to our understanding of what family violence is. A change to our normal. Change is a process and it takes time. It can take generations and lifetimes to achieve but never dismiss the impact of small actions and conscious change.
Changes in our communities we want to see are:
- More people talking about family violence
- More people knowing what it is
- More people asking for help early
- More friends, whānau, workmates and neighbours feeling it’s OK to take action
- More people not tolerating family violence
- More conversations with our children about what safe and caring relationships look like
- More communities taking a stand
No, it’s not easy, but yes, we have to try. We can all make a difference.
Dane is the co-ordinator of Taranaki Safe Families Trust.