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*From the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse*

The Australian Women Against Violence Alliance (AWAVA) has produced a short brochure on the unique role of specialist women’s services in ending violence against women.

The brochure is based on research AWAVA conducted in 2016 for a policy brief on specialist women’s services.

The brochure (4 pages) describes guiding good-practice principles of specialist women’s services that underpin service delivery:

  • A Rights-Based Approach
  • A Client-Centred Approach
  • Perpetrator Accountability
  • Women’s Safety Is Central
  • Accessible Culturally-Appropriate & Sensitive Services
  • Advancing Gender Equality & Women’s Empowerment

The brochure states:

"This model of practice has been built on feminist and social justice approaches to responding to violence against women and is informed by a gendered understanding of the causes of violence. The use of a feminist approach ensures that violence against women, including sexual violence, is understood in terms of power dynamics and social structures, rather than treated as purely individual experiences. A feminist framework locates violence against women and children as occurring within a patriarchal society where male dominance and privilege are normalised.

Being attentive to existing power imbalances, these services seek to restore power, dignity and strength to survivors/victims, while advocating more broadly for social justice and equality in the recognition that people of all genders experience detrimental consequences from rigid gender expectations and the violent use of power."

The policy brief (12 pages) notes:

"These reports highlight both the importance of having specialist women’s services, and the need for mainstream service providers to become more knowledgeable and competent in the areas of sexual violence and domestic and family violence. We must put specialist women’s services at the heart of our service system, and resource them to lead best practice across the health and community services landscape. Significant funding, workforce development and consistent policy and practice development is required if we are to meet the demand and the needs of all women, families and communities impacted by violence."

Aotearoa New Zealand

The Family Violence Death Review Committee's Fifth Report (2016) highlighted the importance of investing in specialist family violence advocacy services.

Specialist domestic violence service provider Shine recently reported they can only deal with one in seven referrals from the police with current resourcing.

The Backbone Collective said survivors of violence have told them reporting abuse often makes things worse.

The Ministry of Social Development recently published Family violence, sexual violence and violence within whānau: Workforce capability framework (2017).

The Ministry of Justice published Family violence risk assessment and management framework: A common approach to screening, assessing and managing risk (2017).

The Evaluation of the family violence Integrated Safety Response pilot (Mossman, Paulin and Wehipeihana, 2017) provides information on the role of specialist positions and organisations in the ISR.

Related information

See NZFVC's Recommended reading on family and whānau violence, including the following sections:

Conceptual models
'What works' reports
Victim/survivors' voices
- Intimate partner violence and child abuse and neglect   
- By population group
- By sector