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We’re collaborating with people on the front line for fully funded sexual violence support and prevention services

At the beginning of this year, we surveyed the ActionStation community to ask where you think we should focus our campaign energy. You told us: We want to change our society's culture and laws so that we can prevent, treat and end sexual violence in Aotearoa New Zealand for good.

To kick things off, in April we hosted a hui (gathering) with Amnesty International New Zealand and invited people from domestic and sexual violence support services to attend, so we could build collaborative relationships and learn about what needs to happen to make this vision of a sexual violence free country a reality.

Participants at the #Freedomforwāhine hui in Auckland

From there, we established three key policy asks that went into our petition:

  1. All secondary, primary and ECE schools are champions of healthy relationships and consent. This includes training and support for all teachers and administrative staff and the implementation of universal, best-practice, culture and age appropriate primary prevention sexuality education, including education on healthy relationships and consent;
  2. There is enough government funding available for nationwide coverage of Kaupapa Māori and other culturally-appropriate, accessible and properly resourced specialist sexual violence support services to provide 24/7 early intervention following recent sexual assault and ongoing interventions when and where needed;
  3. We have locally accessible, free, best-practice and culturally appropriate services for self-referral by people who are at risk of causing harm as well as those who have already caused harm and want to change their behaviour.

In May, we coordinated 130 members of ActionStation to make submissions to Wellington City Council, asking them to declare the city ‘Sexual Violence Free’ and to invest funding into prevention and survivor support. We did this with help from Wellington HELP Sexual Abuse Foundation and Sexual Abuse Prevention Network. Here's a photo of our Director Laura with Wellington City Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons:

Laura and Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons with a banner that reads- Absolutely Positively Sexual Violence Free Wellington

We then coordinated three op-eds from people with experience of sexual violence support and prevention to help raise awareness:

In July, we celebrated the success of Lauren and Ruby’s saw the government invest $18 million in expanding healthy relationships and consent education programme Mates and Dates to high schools nationwide, reaching 180,000 students up from 37,000 young people!

Lauren and Ruby handover their petition to Grant Robertson, Jan Logie and Chris Bishop

Over the next couple months, our incredible volunteer writer and former journalist Linley conducted an investigation into what’s working and what isn’t in the sexual harm prevention, treatment and support sector. She wrote three great articles about what she found to help educate and raise awareness:

All of Linley's blogs pointed to our petition to help grow the numbers too.

In December, we supported Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP Foundation Chief Exective Conor Twyford to deliver our 8,000-strong petition for full funding of sexual violence support and prevention services to Greens co-leader Marama Davidson. Just in time for Budget 2019 negotiations.

We then coordinated an important open letter in response to the tragic death of Grace Millane as a way to channel our collective grief, sadness and anger.

The letter calls for the government to adopt a comprehensive strategy to prevent and end violence against women and to allocate adequate resources to “Ensure that every woman in Aotearoa New Zealand has access to culturally appropriate domestic and sexual violence support and healing services when and where they need it”.

It also asks the men of New Zealand to help women change the reality that most violence towards women is enacted by men. It asks men to listen to, and respect, women. And it asks men to challenge conversations that degrade women because those conversations create the attitudes that our shape our society.

People who signed the letter include former Prime Ministers Helen Clark and Jenny Shipley, former Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright, comedians Michèle A’Court and Urzila Carlson, musician Anika Moa, business leaders Theresa Gattung and Nadia Lim as well as 14 NGOs and one students’ association. We coordinated the letter with writer, activist and musician Lizzie Marvelly.

The news story about the open letter was published on the front page of the Weekend Herald. A newspaper that has a readership of 515,000. It was also covered by RNZ and Newshub.

Front page of the Weekend Herald with the headline: Grace's Legacy

Our Director Laura is also wrote this important op-ed for RNZ urging us to centre the solutions proposed by those at the front line of this issue.

Next year, we will release a report that uncovers how much it would cost the government to fully fund sexual violence prevention and support services in order to influence the Budget in May 2019.

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