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Our work to prevent family violence

New Zealand has a serious family violence problem, but family violence can be prevented. It requires a long term view and investment.

We know it won’t be easy. New Zealand needs to learn, build and grow our prevention approach over time – no other country has successfully done this yet.

Relative to the size of the problem, very little is spent on violence prevention as opposed to response.

Evidence is clear that an effective prevention system is multi-faceted and reinforcing, using targeted and universal methods to ensure that:

  • children and young people grow up safe and nurtured
  • families, whānau and communities are safe environments
  • positive social norms and behaviours are reinforced at the societal and community level.

Focus of MSD’s work

MSD leads the design, development and implementation of the national and community-led approaches to change social norms and behaviours.

The social environment has a profound effect on people’s lives and in order to bring about sustainable behaviour change we need to not only work with communities, but deliver national social change campaigns.

Social change campaigns and community development responses are acknowledged as being highly effective at addressing the drivers of harm and the reinforcing factors:

  • exposure to violence, neglect and trauma as a child;
  • harmful gender norms and gender inequities;
  • social norms that excuse perpetrators, blame victims and stigmatise both;
  • social acceptance of violence as a way to discipline and solve conflict; and
  • a lack of social and community cohesion.

Community-led solutions

MSD’s family violence prevention approach is pioneering and aspirational, but also informed by international community development practice and by emerging local evidence about what works.

Our approach supports our wider role to work in partnership with communities to improve the lives and futures of all New Zealanders. It includes universal and targeted elements recognising that in order to bring about sustainable behaviour change we need community-led initiatives and also national social change campaigns.

E Tū Whānau, Pasefika Proud and ‘It’s not OK’ all support broader outcomes including strong, inclusive and supportive communities, and improved whānau and family wellbeing. They have a focus on preventing family violence by changing attitudes and behaviours, and growing leadership within communities to address family violence.

International evidence is clear that the approaches they take, including community-led development and whole-of-population public health approaches, are best practice.

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