Zonta Club of Rotorua has launched its latest project aiming to raise awareness and help those struggling with family violence/harm.
The Zonta Club of Rotorua Help Sign project aims to place signs 240 x 180mm in size on the insides of toilet doors, giving help phone numbers for victims of family violence/harm, in public parks and reserves, and some public and private buildings.
The project was launched on Tuesday evening at the Rotorua Library, Te Aka Mauri.
In the first phase this includes secondary schools, Toi Ohomai Mokoia Campus, Rotorua Hospital, Central Mall, Ministry of Social Development and some Rotorua Lakes council buildings.
New Zealand has the highest rate of family and intimate partner violence in the developed world, with a 35 per cent increase in the requests for services of Women's Refuge this year since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The violence can be physical, sexual, psychological or financial and involve neglect.
Zonta International has a Zonta Says No to Violence Against Women campaign for the 16 days of activism from November 25 and all Zonta members work on projects to increase awareness of and to prevent violence against women and girls.
Zonta Rotorua's Janette Irvine says many women do not report family violence and Zonta considers that any assistance to encourage women to report or talk about their experiences is worthwhile.
"Having these signs inside toilet doors means that women can be in a private space to note the numbers or take a photo with a phone."
Discussions started late last year with Rotorua Lakes Council (RLC), working initially with recreation and open spaces manager Julianne Wilkinson, and also family harm intervention supervisor Sergeant Sam Parata.
"We had discussions with community services involved with family harm and all have been supportive of the project.
"We are very grateful to have received funding from the Rotorua Trust which has allowed us to have 400 signs printed."
Zonta Rotorua anticipates that there will be others in the community who would like to have the signs in their toilets, so there will be a second phase of the project, and the issue of signs in men's toilets has also been raised.
At the launch, Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick acknowledged those who contributed to this project.
"Sitting in that cubicle, seeing the sign, you might think, 'I need to do something about this', take a photo, and that might be one of the open doors we need in our community.
"You can't make people do something about it, but they have the tool there with them to do something and reach out for help."
Zonta Club of Rotorua president Sierra De La Croix said it was important to keep awareness of family harm at the forefront and help ensure that society knew this is an issue."
Family harm intervention supervisor Sergeant Sam Parata said at the launch that family violence/harm was a "big beast and a big problem" which the team dealt with on a day-to-day basis.
During the launch he discussed the different work and programmes the Family Harm Intervention team was involved in in the community.
He thanked Zonta for supporting and promoting awareness, and said that police attended 100 family harm jobs a week.
"There's a lot of fantastic people and agencies out there prepared to help, it's just getting people aware that's there and this is a great way to do that."
The Zonta Club of Rotorua is one of 29 Zonta clubs in New Zealand and Zonta International is present in 63 countries. The Zonta mission is Empowering Women through Service and Advocacy.
For more information contact Janette Irvine at email@example.com.