Partnerships with Pacific churches change attitudes - 6 August 2014

ParPacific Island church workshopstnering with Pacific Churches and Ministers is an effective way to change attitudes towards family violence in Pacific communities.

Church Ministers can take leadership on family violence prevention. They are also the person people often turn to when they are experiencing family violence.

Community projects in Aoraki and South Auckland have brought family violence out into the open and got people thinking about how to prevent it.


Two events were held in Aoraki with ministers and congregations from Timaru, Ashburton, Oamaru and Christchurch.

They were organised by Fale Pasifika O Aoraki Trust and involved local Police Family Violence Coordinator Steve Wills and It's not OK Champion Vic Tamati, who is Samoan.

About 150 people attended each event from Samoan, Tongan, Niuean and Fijian communities in the district.

Both events were held on Sundays.

The first event was with church leaders to inform them about violence in Pacific families and support that is available in the community for families experiencing violence.

At the second event participants were divided into groups to examine their attitudes and beliefs about family violence.

"They appreciated getting a lot of specific and valuable information about the need to make changes and where to go for professional help," Mr Wills said.

"I've had individuals ring me, both victims and perpetrators. Talking to some of those that attended, they say it was good that there were challenges to their beliefs.

"A number of young people that we have spoken to in the 20 to 30 age group sit between the old culture and the new. They know that family violence is not OK and they have to make changes."

Since the workshop family violence has been discussed more freely, people remind each other that family violence is not OK and at least one church minister has added family violence is not OK to his monthly sermon, project manager Ofa Boyle said.

"I am very pleased with the outcome. I felt that we made a difference especially changing the attitudes of the ministers of how to deliver messages about family violence through religious beliefs."

South Auckland

A series of workshops on understanding family violence have been delivered to Samoan Seventh Day Adventist churches in Auckland.

Each church receives four separate two-hour workshops covering:

  • what is family violence
  • its effects
  • who is affected
  • how can we stop it.

The workshops challenge personal, cultural and spiritual beliefs said Filipo Tipoai who facilitates them with a female colleague.

Participants frequently disclose violence and ask for more information and more help, he said.

"They learn the consequences of being violent for themselves and others," he said.

"The workshops start the conversation and bring the topic out into the open which is new in Pacific church communities."


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