Delivering domestic violence message to MP

David White in the 2017 White Ribbon Ride. The Harm Ends, Futures Begin tour marks the end of David’s advocacy work. Photo, White Ribbon

Anti-violence campaigner David White will bring his electorate tour to the Hibiscus Coast this month when he meets with Rodney MP Mark Mitchell on Monday, May 20.

The Harm Ends, Futures Begin tour encourages community-led preventative action against domestic violence, which has involved David visiting all of New Zealand’s 71 electorates in 72 days.

“The majority of the tour has been sitting down with MPs from all parties and saying ‘what can we do that will work in your community’, with a few presentations thrown in as well,” David says.

“Change is possible, and community driven initiatives are a big part of the solution.”

David’s daughter Helen Meads was shot by her husband in 2009 after enduring years of physical and psychological abuse. David has been an anti-violence advocate, as well as the legal guardian to Helen’s daughters Kimberly and Samantha, with his wife Pam, ever since.

He says rebuilding families is essential in preventing the transfer of trauma to the next generation and in ending the family violence cycle.

This means David has not only had to create an on-going dialogue with the man who killed his daughter, but he will also support him in receiving parole in three years’ time.

“When he was sentenced to 11 years, my initial reaction was ‘that is far too short’. However, 11 years is much too long to be absent in his daughter Samantha’s life,” David says.

“We need our fathers to be fathers, it’s a real problem in New Zealand.”

Mr Mitchell, who knows David through being a White Ribbon ambassador, says he did not hesitate to jump on board and is open to any suggestions from David and Hestia Rodney Woman’s Refuge, who will also be attending the meeting.

David says Mr Mitchell was one of the first MPs to respond to him when he initially pitched the electorate tour idea.

While there is no public meeting being held in Rodney, David will be speaking at an event at Te Manawa Community Hub, 11 Kohuhu Lane, Westgate, Auckland, on Thursday, May 16, at 7pm. All are welcome to attend the event, which will be hosted by Helensville MP Chris Penk and Upper Harbour MP and deputy leader of the National Party, Paula Bennett.

Local domestic violence figures on the rise

Since July last year, Hestia Rodney Women’s Refuge has seen a steady increase in weekly domestic violence callouts, averaging 50 calls a week. A Hestia spokesperson told the paper that this may be due to the influx of new people to the area. Hestia’s figures show that a total of 60 percent of calls are from Whangaparāoa and 20 percent from Ōrewa, and they come from a wide range of families.

However, the Hestia spokesperson says only 18 percent of domestic violence and eight percent of sexual violence is reported, so the true figures would be much higher. Hestia has been instrumental in providing community driven solutions to domestic violence through conducting healthy relationship presentations at Rodney colleges and providing on-going support for domestic violence victims. The organisation believes that education and law reforms which make the system more accessible for women is the key to ending family violence. Anyone needing help or advice can call Hestia’s 24-hour crisis line 0800 REFUGE.

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