Tauranga Police attend around 70 incidents of domestic violence a week - a statistic the Tauranga Moana Abuse Prevention group says is “way too high”.
At a Meet the Candidates’ forum at the Hillier Centre in Bayfair, Bay of Plenty and Tauranga candidates from Labour, National, NZ First, Internet, Green, Maori, Mana, Conservative and NZ Independent Coalition Party all expressed concerns about domestic violence.
TMAPS community family violence co-ordinator Heather Beddie says the meeting, held earlier this week, was about raising awareness on the “epidemic of family violence that is happening in the community”.
“It is right across New Zealand, it’s not just specific to Tauranga.”
Representatives from all the agencies under the TMAPS umbrella were also at the meeting to hear the candidates’ views on domestic violence.
Abuse was an issue all parties agreed on; stating more needs to be done to stop it from happening.
“It’s about people having the necessary skills to deal with stress at home,” says ACT Party candidate Stuart Pederson.
“Education will help break the domestic violence cycle.”
NZ First Tauranga candidate Clayton Mitchell says domestic violence is an issue which can’t be “fixed with a pill or change of legislation”.
“Something needs to be done and we need to clamp down on it hard.”
Clayton also called for tougher sentences for offenders and bridging the gap between inequalities.
“Real men don’t do family violence and real men don’t do sexual violence,” says NZ Independent Coalition Party leader Brendan Horan.
“Real men do nurturing and care.”
Waiariki candidate for NZ Independent Coalition Pat Spellman says it was really good to see the different representatives from the different organisations at the meeting. “It was good to see the other candidates going for election this year come together and putting their party affiliations aside to focus on the bigger picture.
“It’s a terrible issue, but it’s good we have all come to combat it as a collective. If we all fight this kaupapa [issue] individually we are not going to get anywhere, but we have all come together and we are all working with a bigger picture in mind.”
Brendan says the NZ Independent Coalition’s goal is to be the “first family violence free province in the world and we can do it”.
“We need to draw a line in the sand and if we do that, we can do it.”
Heather says the 70 cases reported to police a week are only a percentage of what is really happening.
“That’s 70 women and their respective children that are being hurt in some way under the banner of family violence.
“If we take that right across New Zealand, we have just as big an issue nationally as we do locally. It’s everywhere, one in three of our women are being affected by domestic violence.”
Heather believes meetings like the one at Hillier Centre today are important for people to come together to discuss the issue and start to “dig down deeper” about what can be done to stop it.
“There is no one easy fix.”