Pilot raises awareness of harmful sexual behaviour

Published: May 3, 2022

Oranga Tamariki has partnered with Te Rūnanga o Waihao and Te Rūnanga Arowhenua, the Ministry of Education and STOP, a Christchurch-based non-government organisation, to deliver a pilot raising the awareness of concerning harmful sexual behaviour.

The early intervention pilot will train educators across the takiwa of Arowhenua and Waihao (Mid and South Canterbury) primary schools (Year 1-8), Early Childhood Centres and Kohanga Reo.

This is a first-time collaboration between STOP and manawhenua and an important kaupapa that aims to assist children and their parents through educators and kaimahi to reduce and prevent concerning harmful sexual behaviour from occurring.

The training includes:

  • understanding what normal sexualised play and behaviour is and when to be concerned
  • understanding why children may initiate sexual play and behaviour
  • understanding the influences and impact of social media and explicit material
  • the interface between services when incidents become complex
  • best practice and process and when to consult and refer.

Strengthening relationships with iwi

To strengthen the cultural competence of the pilot and to uphold meaningful engagement with manawhenua, Te Rūnanga o Arowhenua and Te Rūnanga o Waihao have appointed two Cultural Advisors who are involved in all aspects of the pilot to ensure the needs of Ngai Tahu tamariki and whānau are met.

“Previously STOP had not moved fast enough or been responsible for engaging with mana whenua and needed assistance to navigate towards honouring the Treaty and biculturalism in our practice,” says Leah Carr, Chief Executive, STOP.

“For me, it's about integrity-based relationships and partnerships. We consider ourselves extremely fortunate in the growing partnership we have with Arowhenua and Waihao Rūnaka respectively through the Cultural Advisors and the significant contribution this relationship brings to the kaupapa. We are a collective. 

“Our funding relationship is fantastic and the role that Oranga Tamariki has played is to support all the partners to make sure we are all successful.”

Upholding culture in the learning environment

Arowhenua Whānau Services staff will also participate in the training, be responsible for relationship management and provide contract oversight as mandated by mana whenua.

“Knowing that the Cultural Advisors are from the iwi and working with our whānau in the community ensures the continuity of the cultural experience for all of the participants,” says Maria Parish, Kaiwhakahaere, Arowhenua Whānau Services.

“The respect being afforded to us by our culture being acknowledged and heard is very encouraging and questions are being asked in a safe environment. Being available online has also increased the opportunity to participate.

“This training raises the awareness and ability for everyone to learn more and express themselves in a way that people understand, a way that upholds our culture.”

Maania Farrar, Oranga Tamariki Commissioning Manager, Māori, Partnerships and Communities, says she’s humbled by the spirit in which our partners have engaged.

“We see the ongoing relationships as going from strength to strength with the focus on how we can continue to develop and grow,” says Maania.

Workshops run by STOP for Oranga Tamariki and Ministry of Education staff based in mid and south Canterbury marked the beginning of the intervention pilot in March and workshops for teachers are planned for the rest of the year.

Carswell Consultancy has been commissioned to undertake a formative evaluation of the Early Intervention Pilot to understand the feasibility and benefits of applying the training to educators more widely; initial surveying of participants has been very favourable.