Nelson MP Rachel Boyack visited our Nelson office on 27 April to talk policy and to chat with our team. Dee Cresswell and Board Chair Paul Prestidge invited Rachel for an update on the many changes happening in our world, changes she was familiar with since Rachel spent time on the board of Women’s Refuge. It was great to know we weren’t starting from scratch, we had an experienced MP with us and she asked us thoughtful questions.
Most importantly, we know we have an ally in our collective work in the family violence area in Rachel. She spoke about her involvement on the board of Women’s Refuge as well as her support for perpetrators to use family violence leave to undertake specialist treatment. She understands trauma and its lasting effects and that people aren’t born violent. She’s for resources for perpetrators and we loved hearing this! Also, perpetrators “May have a victim story, but what can they do to make sure their kids don’t have one.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
At the start of the conversation, Dee and Paul thanked Rachel for the recent Government funding increases SVS – Living Safe has received for specialist family violence services. You may remember we are part of the Whānau Resilience programme that funded the research and development of what became the New Dads course (which is doing extremely well, we might add!). And in the April newsletter we mentioned that more funding was distributed to help us hire four new staff this year, which is alleviating what was a growing wait list for services. Some of that funding helped with one new staff member to manage the Safety Assessment Meetings for us, and Rachel was glad to hear that the meetings have progressed well. And she had a great chat with Joelene on our team who has been involved in the SAM meetings for years.
One area of interest was the increase in youth clients we are seeing over the last year. While the SAM funding will help with this as well – some of these youth are coming through the daily meetings – Rachel noted that in other areas of her work she is hearing the same general stories about the stress our rangatahi are under currently and that COVID only heightened it.
We look forward to maintaining a strong relationship with Rachel and her team here in Nelson because so many issues on wellbeing and our communities depend on strong, healthy whānau.