Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie has loyally repeated her Government's carefully crafted spin ever since her election. Her column in the Southland Times published on Tuesday this week was very revealing. Dowie acknowledged the severity and extent of domestic violence in New Zealand but her description of what her Government is doing just emphasised why little has improved in this area over the past seven years. Not one initiative addressed the causes of domestic violence, and it became obvious when writing my response that this Government had even deliberately destroyed one of the key agencies that was making a real difference:
MP Sarah Dowie’s description ( 8th September) of how her Government is attempting to deal with our terrible levels of family violence (amongst the worst in the OECD) was sadly lacking in insight.
This Government does not understand that preventative action and addressing the causes of family violence is the best way of solving the problem.
Ms Dowie was able to loyally describe what her Government is doing and every initiative dealt with the consequences of violence not the cause:
- “spreading the message that family violence is not OK”
- Thanking (but under resourcing) the “hardworking and dedicated staff of those agencies who work tirelessly.”
- “Strengthen the country’s legislative response”
- “Improving the accessibility and effectiveness of protection orders”
- “Establishing a family violence criminal disclosure scheme”
Ms Dowie explained how her Government spent $1.4 billion “responding” to family and sexual violence but not what is being spent to prevent it.
I would like to suggest what could be done that would really make a difference:
- Properly funding and staffing CYFs to end years of abuse of children in state care.
- Re-establish Relationships Aotearoa, our most effective counselling service (until it had its funding cut).
- Ensure all families live inhealthy, warm homes that are not overcrowded.
- Support living wages so that 25% of our children no longer live in poverty and young families do not have to struggle to pay for the necessities of life.
- Increase paid parental leave and support parenting as an important role, rather than an economic burden.
- Introduce the Green Party’sschool hub policy where nurses and social workers can better coordinate and work directly with children and families.
Strengthening laws and punishments won’t provide a vulnerable child with a warm, caring home, we need to invest in wrap around services and support what will make a real difference to struggling families.