Report got it right: refuge manager

LIBBY WILSON
Last updated 13:47 18/06/2014

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A recently-released report on child abuse and domestic violence supports what a Hamilton refuge manager has spent years asking for, she says.

''I'm loving what I'm reading [in the Glenn Inquiry People's Report],'' Te Whakaruruhau Family Services manager Ruahine Albert said.

''It's actually supporting what we're saying. Over 28 years I get really tired of going on about what we need and what our families need. And you don't get heard.''

Managers and women at Te Whakaruruhau, a refuge and support centre, were interviewed during research for the report.Many of the women did so nervously as they were laying their heart on the line, Albert said.

Part of what caught the researchers' attention at the refuge was its relationship with Te Ao Marama unit at Waikeria prison and the reintegration programmes it runs for men, Albert said.

''For us, [it] is just around the full circle. To protect our women and children it's better to work with our men.''

Much of the criticism in the report should not come as a surprise to the organisations it was levelled at, Albert said.

There were reports of stand-out staff, but participants suggested the Family Court could be a hostile environment, and pointed out shortfalls within Child, Youth and Family and treatment by Work and Income staff.

''Our government needs to change their rules and regulations to make it easier on the families. I'm talking about all the agencies - CYFS, police - change the way we deal with our families,'' Albert said.

''How do you cut the red tape faster? They [government] can do it faster, I know they can.''

Te Whakaruruhau was fortunate to have good relationships with local people within many of those organisations, but they were still limited by national policies and systems.

And speedier action when it came to ''downright dangerous'' perpetrators was something Albert wanted to see.

Te Whakaruruhau works with the perpetrators of domestic violence when possible but some were ''lethal'' and families could be in danger while they were waiting to go through the system.

''Nothing can protect the people out here because even though we [agencies] might be all collaborative there's very few that are 24 hours, seven days a week,'' she said.

Every time there were reports of someone hurt in a family violence situation the team wondered, 'was that one of ours? Was there something we could have done differently?'

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So those who committed violent acts should be held in cells until the situation could be assessed, and protection order breachers should be arrested and put through the courts on the same day, Albert said.

But she was heartened by the Green Party's calls for parties to come together in a working group to develop a national strategy.

- Waikato Times

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