Pacific communities tackling violence through faith
An inaugural two-day fono has tackled some tough topics of conversation among Pacific people in New Zealand, while looking at solutions to help the community.
Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon Aupito William Sio attended and spoke at the Faith2Move Talanoa Hubbs: Faith moving mountains to prevent family violence in our Pasifika communities fono, in Mangere.
He says Pacific people must become the authors of our own solutions to tackle head-on family violence that haunts the lives of far too many Pacific families.
“Pacific leaders at all levels must take up every opportunity to confront the ugly realities of family violence, and shine a light upon sexual abuse in our families that has been kept in the shadows as a dark community secret that no one talks about,” Minister Sio says.
Disturbingly, the reported levels of family violence are disproportionately high as is the suicide rate among Pacific youth.
“These are uncomfortable facts we have failed to acknowledge for far too long, but if we are to help the next generation, we must all do our part in eliminating it and creating a safe environment in our homes,” the Minister says.
When people stay silent on these tough issues, when hard conversations are avoided, and when people disassociate themselves as if it has nothing to do with them, they are collectively responsible for covering up family violence and abuse.
“This does nothing for the victims, it merely provides the abuser with the licence to abuse.
“I know it will be difficult to have an open conversation about these matters for many, because the offenders and victims are often family members, but we must move past the shame,” Minister Sio adds.
As part of the Ministry for Pacific People’s (MPP) Pacific Vision engagement programme across the country, many people in Pacific communities around New Zealand have raised concerns about the impact family violence has had on families.
However, there are also positive solutions being offered as well, which is encouraging, the Minister says.
The Ministry’s engagement with Pacific groups will make an important contribution to the Government’s work to prevent and reduce family violence and sexual violence in partnership with communities.
This initiative is being led by Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister of Justice, Jan Logie.
“One size doesn’t fit all and we need solutions that respond to the needs of people in different communities,” Minister Sio says.