Families experiencing whānau harm in Te Hiku have been reassured that their calls for help will continue to be heard and responded for the duration of the Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown.
Whiria te Muka, the police/Te Hiku Iwi Development Trust partnership that works to reduce and prevent family violence and uplift mana tangata in Te Hiku ō Te Ika, was continuing to operate throughout the lockdown, co-director Callie Corrigan said.
Family and sexual violence services were deemed essential services, but some of those services were connecting with whānau in different ways.
Ms Corrigan said the team was adapting to the rapidly changing environment, and continuing to connect with families who had reported family violence incidents by dialling 111.
It was anticipated that in the Covid-19 environment, based on international evidence, family harm, sexual violence and child abuse could rise, although two weeks ago the team had received no reports of family violence in Te Hiku for two days, the first time that had happened since Whiria te Muka was launched in November 2017.
"We've never had nights without whānau harm being reported, but that might be because people are unsure if those services are still available. But be assured that our police are there and ready to respond," Ms Corrigan said, adding that a number of Te Hiku services were continuing to operate in various capacities as they navigated new systems and ways of working with the community.
"We know there are a number of providers who are still open, and have been doing an awesome job. Our role at Whiria te Muka is to connect whānau who have experienced family violence with those services, to make sure they are safe and accessing the right supports."
Kaitaia Women's Refuge-Whare Timatatanga Hou Ora CEO Waimaria Veza also urged anyone who was feeling unsafe to contact the service on the 24-hour crisis line (0800 REFUGE or 0800 733-843), or the police directly via 111.
"Our kaimahi are still working, some of them remotely, and all of our contracts are still operational," she said.
"Our statistics have risen in the last week, but these aren't all from police referrals. A number of them have come from calls to our crisis line or through our website (www.wtho.org.nz).
Nationally, the government's Joint Business Venture Unit is advising families not to be concerned if support services ask Covid-19-related questions. This was seen as a necessary step for all services in the current climate, and people were sometimes being asked these types of questions so their specific needs could be catered for while keeping everyone safe.
People were also encouraged to continue phoning 105 to report non-urgent matters to the police.
Ms Corrigan said one of the positives of the lockdown was that people were undergoing some self-reflection and strengthening their ties with one another, despite being physically isolated.
"One of the things I've been thinking about is how lucky our tupuna who chose to come here to Te Hiku are. It's an important time just to stay connected to one another, and probably more than ever time to just be calm and patient," she said.
Anyone who is experiencing family violence and requires urgent assistance should phone 111. For all other non-urgent police matters, phone 105.
The following helplines are also available for those who are experiencing family violence and need help:
Safe to Talk (Sexual Harm Helpline): 0800 044 334, text 4334, email email@example.com
Rape Crisis: 0800 88 33 00.
Women's Refuge: 0800 733 843.
Shine (Domestic Abuse Services): 0508 744 633.
Hey Bro (supporting men to be free from violence): 0800 HEYBRO or 0800 439 276.
Family Violence Information Line: 0800 456 450.
Ōranga Tamariki: 0508 326 459, or firstname.lastname@example.org
1737, need to talk? (mental health support) : Free call or text 1737.
Youthline: 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email@example.com
Shakti (for migrant and refugee Women): 0800 742 584.
Elder abuse helpline: 0800 326 6865.
Te Puna Ōranga (whānau crisis line): 0800 222 042