Media Release 21st February 2017

The prevalence of violence in families in New Zealand is significant, with over 40,000 women and children referred to Women’s Refuge last year; just under half of those were for children.  Today Women’s Refuge launches a campaign to ensure that kids in Aotearoa can lead lives free from violence. Kids In the Middle is a nationwide campaign to raise funds to go towards establishing more child advocates across the country.

“We know that the impact of exposure to family violence is devastating for children; with some kids saying that witnessing family violence is more distressing than being the direct victims of violence by adults,”  says Women’s Refuge Chief Executive Dr Ang Jury.

“Living with violence creates a sense of constant anxiety and stress, and this stress can damage if it’s too much or lasts too long; when these tiny minds are exposed to severe, frequent, or ongoing stressful situations it can lead to an over sensitive stress response.”

Disturbingly, recent Refuge statistics indicate that the demand for refuge services for children will increase over the next 4-5 years; they will need more child advocates to help reduce the trauma of children’s experiences, and break the negative cycle.

“The kids we work with tell us that they just want to be listened to, have their opinions, thoughts and ideas taken seriously, and be told what is going on.  We need to be listening to, and supporting children who experience family violence in the ways that they need. For this they need the help of specialised, trained child advocates who work for and with them.”

While Women’s Refuge has government contracts with Ministry of Justice and Child Youth and Family to provide children’s programmes, the organisation is largely unfunded for the one on one specialised work they do with children.

“Child advocates are critical to addressing family violence. Lack of funding for these services for children means that many refuges are unable to retain trained and skilled child advocates, or that the child advocate role is amalgamated into another existing role; essentially our refuges have to choose between child advocates and paying the power bill.”

The Kids In the Middle campaign will run for 4 weeks and donations can be made via the website www.kidsinthemiddle.org.nz.

ENDS

Media Enquiries
Ruth MacIntyre-Bardell
0274 037 196
media@refuge.org.nz