White Ribbon Awareness took centre stage in the Tararua District last week, with a strong emphasis on promoting healthy masculinity through the ‘Boys will be Boys’ campaign. Two Tararua Community Services staff, Stephanie Aspinall (Family Harm Social Worker) and Trudie Flynn (Tararua Safety Assessment Management Coordinator) collaborated with local Police and the White Ribbon committee to actively engage with communities across the district.
The week started with committee members placing white ribbons around prominent trees throughout the Tararua towns of Pahiatua, Woodville and Dannevirke. This was a powerful visual display. Alongside the ribbons were the stories of women who have lost their lives to intimate partner violence in Aotearoa. It was great to see people wandering through the trees reading these stories, which were shocking and upsetting but provide some insight into the prevalence of violence in our country and the need for change.
Later in the week, an official public opening event was held in Rangitāne Square, Dannevirke. This was followed by a ‘White Ribbon Rock’ hunt with 15 participating schools, all aimed at promoting healthy relationships. A free sausage sizzle was on offer too, which helped to prompt discussions.
The kaupapa of this initiative was ‘Intergenerational Family Harm’. Over the past six months, 357 reported episodes of family harm across Tararua have been addressed. Contributing factors to these incidents include poverty, the normalisation of abuse through role modelling, and challenges related to mental health and addiction.
The aspiration is to witness the community rallying behind preventative measures, fostering strong relationships between local Police and the various agencies who can offer support to those experiencing family harm. The aim is to build a supportive environment, addressing the root causes of family harm and promoting a culture of respect and understanding. We want to see a community where people call out negative behaviour that influences and perpetuates violence against women.