Anna is a reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Lack of ethnic resources impacting domestic violence services

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Ethnic domestic violence victims are being hindered from moving on, due to lack of counselling resources.

Shakti Women's Refuge manager and counselling student Sonia Pathak said there was a "huge need" for ethnic counsellors.

"We see the gap when they keep coming into our office.

"We have some wonderful community counselling but they need long-term counselling."

Mrs Pathak said an awareness of cultural differences was essential for counsellors working with women from different cultures.

"In some cases later on it will be the cultural aspect of a community stigma for her, not only impacting the mother but in the long-term for the child. These are huge concerns for ethnic clients."

She said long-term ethnic counselling helped women feel comfortable about leaving unsafe relationships, but there was a lack of people who could counsel them from an ethnic perspective.

"We want to inspire the client to keep moving forward, to regenerate within themselves."

Multicultural Tauranga centre manager Janet Smith said the organisation was lucky to have a student counsellor who was originally from Nepal.

"It's a real boost as a service we've been able to offer," she said

"It's something not needed every day, but we've wanted to do for a few years."

Student counsellor Sudah Bhandari said having ethnic counsellors was important.

"I also come from another country. I've come to New Zealand and experienced struggling with everything. I can understand the feelings and the emotions and the struggles, everything they've been through. We are far from home... I can relate to them"

Ms Bhandari can speak Hindi, Nepalese and English

She said people from some Asian countries were reluctant to see a counsellor because there was a stigma associated with it.

"In our country, we believe in family and getting comfort from family and friends."

Ms Smith said Multicultural Tauranga offered interpreting services on a user pays basis, with a variety of languages.

Mrs Pathak said some women were able to access help through the Ministry of Justice, but only if they filed a criminal charge or a protection order was in place.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said individual and group safety programmes were funded for adults and children protected by a protection order, as well as five hours of service to adult victims of domestic violence offences when a charge has been filed in the criminal court.

"While programmes are not specifically designed around ethnicity, they are designed to address the needs of participants."

"Shakti Refuge are a ministry provider of safety programmes. Due to the nature of their work, they deliver adult safety programmes and adult strengthening safety services in Auckland, Tauranga and Christchurch and child safety programmes in Auckland and Christchurch to those clients who identify as Asian, African or Middle Eastern."

You can find more information about our safety programmes here https://www.justice.govt.nz/family/domestic-violence/safety-help-and-non-violence-courses/

- Bay of Plenty Times

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