The Government is paying $500,000 to extend a programme aiming to keep families at risk of domestic abuse safe in their own homes, but the idea has been met with a mixed response in Manawatu.
Justice Minister Judith Collins said the funding would extend by 12 months the safe@home programme delivered by Auckland charity Shine.
It is available only in Auckland City, North Shore, Counties Manukau, Tauranga and Christchurch, but Shine spokeswoman Holly Carrington said there was a desire to take it to other areas.
"There is an evaluation that is still under way that's not going to come out until near the end of the year, so it's really too early for us to consider extending it into other areas beyond that.
"But, of course, ultimately we would love to do that because we know that there is a need for this kind of a service throughout New Zealand, and it makes such a difference to the people that it has helped."
The programme involves securing victims' homes and installing monitored personal alarms.
Carrington said almost all the women who had received the service had reported feeling safer and being able to sleep at night, which affected their mental wellbeing.
The women were at high risk of being harmed and had to be committed not to continue in a relationship with their abusers. Manawatu Women's Refuge manager Ang Jury would not welcome such a programme in Palmerston North.
"I see no reason that we should be locking women up in their houses, and the number of potential risks that doing that creates far outweighs the benefits.
"You've got women who potentially have houses that are locked up tight as and one of the kids lets somebody in and they just lock the door behind them."
She said in a recent homicide case in Wellington a woman had "every piece of security you could imagine" and the killer still got into the house.
In another case, the killer waited outside until the woman went to get firewood.
More time and effort needed to be spent on making offenders accountable rather than asking women to be responsible for someone else's behaviour, Jury said.
Abuse and Rape Crisis Support Manawatu manager Ann Kent said such a programme had to be part of a holistic strategy dealing with both victims and perpetrators of violence.
"There is no programme that is going to solve the issues around domestic violence and I certainly agree that there needs to be a focus on working with the perpetrators of the violence to stop that.
"That also shouldn't detract from services for victims of that domestic violence."
She said some victims would not want to continue in their relationships and felt unsafe in their environments. Safe@home would make them feel safer when points of access into the house were secured.
"I can imagine that children are going to feel better knowing that, but it shouldn't be seen as a solution because it's not. It's a tool to make people feel safer within the environment they choose to be in."
- Manawatu Standard
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