Preventing family harm

An interagency team in the Horowhenua, which includes Oranga Tamariki, has won a Department of Corrections Bronze award for its efforts to help prevent family harm.

Published on
28 Nov 2018
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Recognition for a coordinated approach

The Horowhenua Interagency Family Harm team is made up of staff from Oranga Tamariki, Corrections, Police, and Horowhenua Abuse Liaison Team (HALT).

It formed in July last year, with the aim of more effectively responding to people experiencing family harm.

At the awards presentation, Corrections District Manager Hati Kaiwai, said the team’s shared knowledge, resources and expertise in making decisions in a timely way is making a genuine difference to the Horowhenua.

“Across each of our organisations we could not achieve individually what this team has achieved.”

How the team works

The frontline team meet on a daily basis to discuss any overnight family harm incidents. At that meeting they complete an initial risk assessment based on the information from each agency, and then a plan is made for anything that requires an immediate response, such as a report of concern.

When Thursday rolls around, the team meets with Women’s Refuge, mental health, the Children’s Team and iwi to discuss and develop a co-ordinated response approach. This could involve referrals for counselling or addiction issues, or referrals to services such as Whānau Ora or Family Start; working with families, developing safety plans, or holding family group conferences.

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Bernie Cranshaw receiving her award

Our Social Workers' role

The team's job is to help prevent and reduce the risk of family violence, says team member and Oranga Tamariki Horowhenua Site Senior Practitioner, Bernie Cranshaw.

“Recently we were able to support a mother and her kids to re-locate after the father was becoming increasingly violent towards them,” she says. “My role was to speak with the children and when I did they told me they didn’t feel safe, and wanted to move away nearer to whānau.”

Bernie coordinated support for the mother in another area, and the team helped to remove barriers to make the move happen that week.

“What we recognise is that mothers need to be supported to care for their children and that simply telling them to leave the relationship is not enough and doesn’t work due to the layers of complexity within the cycle of violence.”

There’s now no need for intervention from Oranga Tamariki in this case, as the children are safe with their loving mother and good supports are in place.