It’s in your hands!

John Key

John Key – Prime Minister of New Zealand photo credit: Andrew Gorrie/Fairfax NZ

Like so many people, our team was saddened to hear of the brutal slaying of two women in Ranui, West Auckland, earlier this week. We were not surprised to learn yesterday that it has been reported that a current protection order was in place for one of those women and that the respondent is the person who has been charged with their double homicide.

To compound this grief (and yes we feel immense grief for these women, their family and friends) we were again confronted with the news of another homicide yesterday in the very same suburb, in which these women were murdered.  And whilst this wasn’t specifically domestic violence, the fact remains that there is yet another family grieving the violent death of a loved one.

Which begs the question? How can organizations such as Women’s Refuge effectively keep women and children and indeed families as a whole, safe from the scourge of our society, that is domestic violence?

This is particularly pertinent when the people we democratically elect to power in this country are often disinterested or seem not to care? When social policy and legislation is implemented that appears to no longer support the welfare of women, children and families and when we know that domestic violence is vastly underreported and inaccurately reported in statistical data by government departments?

Obviously we have to really call this into question, when we are four months out from a general election and very few politicians have made this their election agenda.

We particularly have to question politician’s analysis of the real national domestic violence crisis.  And make no mistake; this country is in crisis.

When our own local MP, Maurice Williamson, recently made a huge error in judgment and showed a complete lack of analysis of the dynamics of domestic violence by inquiring about the actions of Police in the charging  and subsequent prosecution of a wealthy Chinese businessman; it’s time for us to lay down a wero or challenge to those in power.

Now in Maurice’s favour, he demonstrated some integrity in resigning his post and very early on made contact with us.  As an MP, he has done a lot of work for and on behalf of our clients and we respect him for reaching out and wanting to learn from the experience and do better.

But where are his mates? We can probably count on one hand the number of politicians from across the political divide, who actually understand the impact that domestic violence has on our society, our people and our economy.

And what the hell are the leaders of our country thinking when they are too busy calling each other names in the house and attacking each other in, let’s be honest, often abusive encounters and shifting blame, rather than focus on the real issues facing our communities?

How does this lead by example? What does this say about what they themselves deem acceptable behaviour?

So if our politicians are serious about ensuring that Aotearoa is a safe place for our children to grow and our women, families and our economy to thrive, they should be talking to services such as Women’s Refuge.

And so here’s the wero to our politicians. Put domestic violence on your election agenda. Get educated. Take action. If you really entered politics to make a difference, it won’t be a difficult choice to make.

Most refuges have an open door policy when it comes to education and prevention. We want to educate our communities and who best to start with than those in power?

Refuges are prepared to educate anyone, if they are willing to really listen, understand and do better. And perhaps, just perhaps, it might save a life.

If our politicians are prepared to undertake this, it will most likely make us stand out as a socially responsible nation that cares about the safety and welfare of women and children. And it might just be the impetus for change needed to implement social policy that supports the emancipation from domestic violence that is currently lacking for our communities.

So remember that ‘with great power, comes great responsibility.’ It’s in your hands.

To contact your local refuge call 0800 REFUGE (733 843) for information, advice, education, support and advocacy.

Photo credit: Andrew Gorrie/Fairfax NZ

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