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Social agencies and refuges in Tauranga are bracing for a spike of family violence during the lockdown and all are concerned they will not have the capacity to cope.
But Tauranga mayor Tenby Powell, who is chairman of the Bay of Plenty Civil Defence emergency management group, said motels could be an option for women and children at risk.
As part of the nation's alert level 4 and state of emergency, the group has the power to offer empty motels. ''We need to look at that now, as we have empty motels,'' he said.
Te Tuinga Whanau Services Trust director Tommy Wilson welcomed the idea of offering motels but said the biggest challenge would be providing all the wraparound services to support the victims.
The social agency already housed about 117 families and he expected that demand to climb.
The trust already used 30 motel units and hoped to build on that capacity but those affected by addictions also had to be considered.
"There are those who have a huge appetite for methamphetamine. So that is going to be a challenge because the people distributing won't have the freedom to move.
''So when you cut that supply, we'll have a lot of addiction problems with people who can't fuel their addiction, and that will be another sort of flashpoint. So again, we will see the needs for having more refuges, or more safe houses, or oases.''
Tauranga Women's Refuge manager Hazel Hape said overseas literature showed an increase in violence during natural disasters and pandemics.
''There will definitely be a ripple effect.''
She also said making some motels available would ''help significantly''.
''As the weeks go on in these types of crises with families having to be quarantined and locked down together, violence and abusehas the potential to escalate, and it will.
''Having families in their own bubble in a motel unit would be also helpful to minimise the spread of Covid-19, as opposed to putting them into one bubble with communal kitchens and showers.''
The refuge office was closed but the safe house would remain open, although it was almost at capacity and could accommodate only 10 women, including children.
''This is what Tauranga needs to be aware of - we only have two safe houses; we have one and Shakti has the other.''
Canterbury University criminologist Greg Newbold said there had been a big jump in alcohol sales, and alcohol and violence were familiar partners.
As the weeks unfolded, there would be increasing tensions and ''we would most likely see the domestic violence spikes which were often seen at Christmas''.
Hospitality New Zealand accommodation sector Bay of Plenty chairman and 850 Cameron Motel owner Tony Bullot said he hoped Civil Defence would ask first before it requisitioned motels for those at risk.
''I know authorities are coming up with different plans at the moment, including finding housing for doctors and healthcare workers and so on. I'm sure moteliers will voluntarily do it, as these are extraordinary times.
''But in New Zealand, ideally, if that happens, some sort of fee should be attached, or effectively we'd be paying the rent for other people.''
As of 1pm yesterday, there were 63 new Covid-19 cases in New Zealand - 60 new confirmed and three probable cases, bringing the total to 514. A total of 56 people had recovered, and nine were still in hospital.
Yesterday, the Government announced New Zealand's first coronavirus death - a woman in her 70s in Greymouth Hospital who tested positive for the virus on Friday morning.
A police spokeswoman said the stress and uncertainty from Covid-19 were especially hard for people living with family violence and sexual violence.
"Self-isolation can mean the risk of further violence from a partner, family member or housemate increases, and there may be challenges connecting with supportive people and accessing help the way you normally would."
She said the support services were essential and would remain available, even if services need to be delivered in different ways.
"Violence is a crime at any time and including during this Covid-19 period.
"The Government and police continue to take family violence and sexual violence very seriously."
Helplines were available to find out how to help someone else.
"We have a collective responsibility to look out for and help victims, their families and whānau."
She suggested setting up a code word with a friend, family member or neighbour immediately.
When used, it would be known that immediate help was needed.
There were 13,219 family investigations carried out in the Bay of Plenty last year - nearly 1000 more than the previous year and about 483 more than in 2016.
Of these, 2213 cases went to court, which is the highest number of family harm prosecutions of any region in the country and an average of six a day.
There were 67 more prosecutions than in 2017 and 187 fewer cases than in 2016.
Help Phone Lines
Safe to Talk sexual harm helpline 0800 044334, text 4334
* Rape Crisis — 0800 88 33 00
* Women's Refuge — 0800 733 843
* Shine domestic abuse services free call 0508 744 633 (9am and 11pm)
* Hey Bro helpline — supporting men to be free from violence 0800 HeyBro (439 276)
* Shakti — for migrant and refugee women — 0800 742 584 — 24 hours
* Oranga Tamariki line for concerns about children and young people 0508 326 459
* Te Puna Oranga — whānau crisis line 0800 222 042 — 24 hours