Family and sexual violence conference in Queenstown

Louise Nicholas and Ken Clearwater will be speaking during a panel discussion on sexual and family violence in Queenstown.
Warwick Smith

Louise Nicholas and Ken Clearwater will be speaking during a panel discussion on sexual and family violence in Queenstown.

A high profile panel of family and sexual violence experts are coming to Queenstown when the resort hosts the first national conference of its kind.

Jigsaw Central Lakes is collaborating with Queenstown's Catalyst Trust to hold a panel discussion on the eve of the conference, The Culture of Family and Sexual Violence, with nationally renowned experts Louise Nicholas, Ken Clearwater, Nicola Atwell and Rachel Smith.

Jigsaw clinical team leader Niki Hawke said family and sexual violence was a serious issue in Queenstown Lakes, but it was "too real, too hard and too close to people" for it to have a public face.

Hawke said it was often unseen beneath Queenstown's glitzy image. The image ignored drug and alcohol abuse, financial pressures and limited family and community support for those who were vulnerable – all of which may increase violent behaviours, and their impacts.

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The organisation helped 322 adults deal with family and sexual violence in the seven months to the end of February, and responded to phone enquiries from many more.

In the year ending June 2016, 865 children had been identified as being affected by family violence across the region.

Catalyst Trust chair Cath Gilmour said the need for this kind of leadership nationwide had been highlighted in the last week.

Justice Minister Amy Adams announced the government would review its approach to family and sexual violence and MPs unanimously supported the first reading of Jan Logie's private member bill calling for domestic violence victims to be given up to 10 days' paid leave to escape their situation.

Also last week, two Wellington boys' schools were in media headlines for Facebook posts boasting of schoolboys raping unconscious girls and sexual harassment of two teachers.

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Hawke said family and sexual violence afflicted people across every demographic.

"It could be your neighbour who is being hit up or abused. Or your work mate, friend or auntie. For many of us, because the conversation is so hard, we just go 'ugh' and hold our hands up. We don't want to deal with it.

"Discussions with this panel will help us all become more aware of the questions we should ask and what we can do - as individuals and as a community." 

Hawke said in Taupo, many hairdressers have been trained in the "It's Not Okay" programme. In Wellington, bars have trained their bouncers and bar staff around sexual violence and in Queenstown, backpacker managers had been given information put together by police. 

Catalyst Trust will collate a report of suggested responses from the community workshop following the panel discussion, to forward to the relevant parties.

*Family and Sexual Violence – Yes It Does Happen Here Too will be held at Queenstown Memorial Centre on April  20 from 7pm til 9pm. Register at


 - Stuff


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