“Hikoi te Korero” was the name gifted to the group at that first hui by the late Riki Paniora, after a debriefing conversation with our team. We honour his contribution to the early vision of this group and his quiet, compassionate leadership. Probably unaware of how instrumental his korero was, it is with his words and wisdom in mind that we continue, with passion, to look for options in order to establish this service. Riki was an educator, a father, a husband, a good friend, a leader, an orator and a fine man. We miss his wisdom, laughter and kindness.
Eastern Refuge have long held the belief that men are integral to the aims of our movement and that men have a role in challenging other men in order to facilitate respectful and equity-based relationships with women.
At the heart of the Womens Refuge movement is the philosophy of keeping families safe. While our focus is predominantly women and children, there are many times in past years, where refuge advocates have been asked to, and have, facilitated support networks for males either as the abuser or the person who is being abused.
We acknowledge that there are far more instances of women wanting to return to their partner than those who have made the decision not to. In keeping families safe from violence we are forced to acknowledge that there may, or have been, instances in which we are bound to seek support for men within the familial relationship.
As a collective we would be ill-advised to believe that we are in a position to do this effectively or without consulting the experts in this forum, specifically men themselves. For this reason a Men’s Caucus was established in late 2008 which would effectively attach itself to our collective and provide information and direction regarding the support that is required for men with a hope that they would one day establish their own service.
The caucus has rececently developed their five year strategic plan in which they seek to establish a men’s hub in Counties Manukau East, under the umbrella and direction of Eastern Refuge. The hub will provide social services and established programmes, from partner agencies, to meet the needs of men within our community and to facilitate a sense of ownership and legitimacy for men making positive changes in their lives and relationships. Within three years they hope to establish their own residential facility and have a team of male social workers. Within five years, they aim to become independent of Eastern Refuge, but maintain strong working relationships and a partnership that supports our collective principles.
We all agree, at Eastern, that the biggest challenge ahead, is changing the attitudes and behaviours of perpetrators and ensuring that they have adequate supports and services, in order to create those changes. This is important for three reasons.
Firstly in ensuring safe and secure families/whanau and secondly ensuring there is accountability and insight into violence and abuse from the perpetrator. Finally, the aim is to create a pathway to change that meets the needs of individual family/whanau groups and that this allows for a process of change to occur at their pace.
As a collective we would be ill-advised to believe that we are in a position to do this effectively or without consulting the experts in this forum, specifically our men.
Men’s Caucus have committed to ensure:
- The safety of women and children as seen as paramount
- Provides a forum for men who support the kaupapa and the political philosophies of the Refuge movement, including the four cornerstones of the Refuge movement, their principles and practice
- To be proactive in lobbying for and developing initiatives for men, for use by Refuge and other related agencies
- To provide a uniquely male perspective and ensuring that the voices of men are heard within the context of Refuge related work
- Ensure that the development and facilitation of programmes for men is complimentary to that of the Refuge, and takes into account the needs of the whole family and its safety.
- Facilitate respectful, equity-based relationships with women, communities, partner agencies and external stakeholders
The caucus adheres to the same working philosophies and principles as the women working within the movement. Members of the group come from various ethnicities, cultural imperatives and values bases. To support Men’s Caucus or become a member, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org