Happy New Year everyone.
Taranaki Safe Families Trust wishes one and all a safe and happy 2021. The new year symbolises new beginnings and new hope. It's also a time to reflect on the previous year, make improvements and continue positive habits.
2020 was a challenging year to say the least. It was an unprecedented time no one could have predicted 12 months ago. Covid-19 affected the entire world and we all had to make adjustments to get through. We may be thankful Aotearoa hasn't been affected as much as other countries around the world, but we have still seen the effects.
Family violence has been affected big time. Recent figures show that since March (when New Zealand entered lockdown level 4) the number of family harm investigations carried out by police was up every month right through to September, compared with the previous year. The total national number of family harm reports between March and September 2020 was more than 97,000. That compares with 84,500 in the same period in 2019. That's an increase of about 14 per cent, or 70 extra reports per day.
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To put it into context of how we compare in Taranaki, the total number of family harm callouts by police between March and September 2020 was 3092, compared with 2807 for the same period the year before. That's an increase in our region of about 10 per cent.
As always, it's important we put these factors into perspective. Covid-19 does not cause family violence.
Lockdowns don't cause family violence. They are what we call side factors like alcohol, mental health and anger issues. They don't cause family violence either. They can however, create an environment in which family violence is more prevalent or likely to happen – but they are not the root cause.
At Taranaki Safe Families Trust, we are passionate about continuing the family violence prevention campaign in Taranaki in 2021.
We are strong advocates for community collaboration, connecting whānau with relevant services and challenging the systems in place that allow family violence to thrive. We do that in the hope that Taranaki families will be safe and free from violence. But we can't do it by ourselves. We need everyone to join us on this journey.
It's important to remember that community issues need a community response. We can all make a difference and we have to be relentless in our pursuit for safer families. We must keep going.