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The Fono: Family violence service updates

November 03, 2017 at 10:37 AM

*From The Fono website*

Dedicated to Family Wellbeing

Registered social worker Salome Finau once worked as a teacher and a factory worker before becoming a fulltime caregiver for her mother. Her previous roles all contributed to Salome’s drive to work towards helping those who need it the most. As part of The Fono’s Family Care Team, Salome is committed to assisting Pacific families who have experienced family violence.

Just a few weeks into her role, social worker Salome knows making the move to The Fono was the best thing for her.

“I am outcome-driven,” says the Tongan born-and-raised Salome.

“I would like to see more positive outcomes for our clients because the reason why we’re here is to make change.”

Salome acknowledges that actively working towards improving the wellbeing of a family who have experienced family violence is a sensitive subject.

In Tonga, Salome was a teacher in the village of Nukunuku for almost a decade. On her 28th birthday, she wanted to have a change of career and decided moving to New Zealand with her family would provide more options.

Recognising she was likely to be the main earner for the family, Salome worked in factory jobs to look after and provide for her family financially. Then her mother’s care needs increased.

“I left my job and committed myself to looking after my mum,” she recalls.

At this time, she also became aware of her calling to further her studies. With the help of her older siblings, Salome began to study at the University of Auckland, attaining a Bachelor of Social Work.

“While I looked after my mum, I studied,” she recalls.

“My sisters would care for her when I went to classes, but I did all my work and assignments at home.”

After graduating, she began her social work career with Barnardos as a community support worker, recruiting stay-at-home mums with children under 5, before moving to another Pacific provider for four years as a social worker.

“I wanted to help out my people, so after four years I decided to move to The Fono,” she recalls.

“I wanted to expand my knowledge and work with other ethnicities, I like working with Pacific people.”

It’s this drive to help the wider Pacific community that led Salome to The Fono’s Family Care Team to work with people experiencing domestic violence.

The Fono offers a crisis intervention service for Waitemata Pacific families who are experiencing family violence issues. The specialised social work support service is actively involved with the Police, working in partnership to strengthen families and communities.

Each family’s needs are assessed and an action plan is developed by the social worker which may include linking the family to the most appropriate services to address any ongoing needs.

“I’ve talked to people who don’t feel safe but don’t know what to do,” she says.

“I’m driven to help and to educate people about where to get help and work towards a safer environment for their family.”

Find out more 

Family Violence Service 

Contact our team 


*From The Fono website*

Facilitating Change

Fononga Le’aliki is a new member of The Fono’s Family Care Team, committed to assisting Pacific families who have experienced family violence. As a counsellor, his main passion is the facilitation of change in the lives of those he helps, by supporting them with crisis support advocacy and offering information.

Coming from a large family of eight children, Fononga understands the patience required in dealing with the dynamics of various family members.

Born to Tongan parents living in Vanuatu, Fononga’s father was from Kolomotu’a on the main island of Tongatapu and his mother was from Leimatua in Vava’u.

The family lived in Vanuatu until the civil war in the early 1980s, when the former French and British colony known as the New Hebrides gained independence. The unrest saw the family move back to Tonga.

As he grew older, Fononga sought opportunities and followed his interests to the University of the South Pacific in Fiji studying theology. In 2011 he came to New Zealand and studied at the Bethlehem Tertiary Institute in Tauranga. It was where he met his wife to be. After attaining his degree in counselling, the pair moved back to Tonga, where they married.

The couple have a 17-month old son and returned to New Zealand in 2016. Fononga continued to develop his skills as a counsellor, securing a role in The Fono’s Family Care Team.

The focus of the team in caring for families who have experienced family violence appealed to Fononga, whose passion in facilitating change to improve people’s lives continued to grow.

“At The Fono, you have the freedom to actually do your job,” he says.

He receives satisfaction knowing he is able to improve the lives of clients referred to him from the courts, the Ministry of Justice, or internally through The Fono’s other services.

The Family Care Team also delivers safety programmes in the homes, with women and children who have protection orders put in place.

He’s happy to know that families are getting to a safe place and that people gain a better understanding of family violence.

Fononga says there are many different types of violence and it’s his job to educate the families, so that they can recognise when it occurs and get the help needed to keep their loved ones safe.

“To know that there was lots of violence before, but that they’re now in a safer place, is a massive goal for us to work towards when working with each family,” he explains.

It’s a worthy goal which Fononga is committed to achieving.

Find out more 

Family Violence Service 

Contact our team 

Category: Service