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Tackling Sexual Violence: National Strategy Design, Execution Will Be Key

Leading family violence and sexual violence sector
leaders say the work underway to develop a National Strategy
and Action Plans must be well designed and executed because
there is an unlikely to be a better chance to get it

“This national strategy is really significant
because we’ve never had one before specifically to tackle
sexual violence and we’ve waited a really long time to get
it. We’ve also waited a really long time to have a
specific Minister,” says Maggy Tai Rākena, Manager for
START, an independent Christchurch-based social services

“To create a great strategy, we need to hear
from the people at the coal face; the people who have been
harmed sexually, and also the people doing the harm and the
people who help the people in both of those

Sexual violence can be tough for people
to talk about but Ms Tai Rākena praises the Government’s
inclusive consultation approach which has involved hundreds
of hui, anonymous online surveys, and postcards during the
just completed seven-week engagement process for the
development of a National Strategy and Action

The specialist sexual violence sector actively
led, hosted and participated in the consultation process, as
well as providing opportunities for their service users to

“It’s great that the Government
created the opportunity to give voice to those who wanted
it. I put some butcher’s paper up on the wall in our
service’s waiting room – we see children, youth and
adults who have experienced sexual violence across the
gender, socioeconomic and ethnic divide.”

Ms Tai
Rākena posted a simple question about what people thought
was needed in the strategy, and left out post-it notes and
felt pens, and invited all to participate. It was an
opportunity to engage in a known space, she

“It was up there for three or four weeks. We
got a good page full of responses that I’ve sent on to the
Joint Venture – the unedited version written ‘as is,
where is’. It’s a timely synopsis. We didn’t chase our
clients, we just gave them a reasonably private forum where
they could pick up a pen and write when no one was

The next step of creating a national
strategy is complex and a big piece of work, she says. The
most important thing is what action results from the

“Simplistic solutions are not going to
solve it. This is a lifetime of work and so it requires us
to be thinking about all ages, all demographics and all
sorts of discrete cultural groups – whether it be LGBTQ+,
ethnic cultures, children or youth. We need to be thinking
about it at every level, primary prevention, early
intervention, crisis response, long term recovery, and we
must include indigenous models of response.”

of the wide variety of people affected by sexual violence,
Ms Tai Rākena believes the Government needs to support
diverse responses that are well considered, thoughtful, and
sound to take care of people.

“This is a team of
five million kind of a job – for all of us – while
perpetrators are the focus of the problem, they also reflect
wider society. We need to examine what role we can all play
in terms of changing the culture of our society concerning
healthy sexual behaviour. We have to keep this conversation
going,” Ms Tai Rākena says.

“We need to get our
head round it… It’s a solvable problem. Eat the elephant
one bite at a time – just ignoring it will not eliminate
anything. If we don’t educate ourselves to know how to do
better, we are all perpetrating the cultural paradigm
unwittingly that enables it.”

The national
engagement period ended last week. The National Strategy and
Action Plans are due to be approved by Cabinet and then
launched later this year.

For more information on the
Joint Venture go to:

Insights from the
national engagement:

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