by Greta Yeoman
An organisation providing support services for male perpetrators of family violence visited South Canterbury last week.
Representatives from Christchurch-based He Waka Tapu Trust’s “Hey Bro” programme were at a Mental Health Awareness Week event at Arowhenua marae last Wednesday.
The pilot scheme also has a nationwide 24/7 helpline, 800Hey Bro (0800439-276), which can be contacted by anyone feeling they are at risk of harming a family member.
Hey Bro phone co-ordinator Shannel Fiaui said while there was a “a lot support” for victims of family violence, not much was available for male perpetrators.
“Hey Bro is about filling that need.”
The service, which started in June last year, is based out of the Justice and Emergency Services Precinct in the Christchurch CBD, meaning the team sees men as soon as they end up in the cells following family harm incidents.
Mr Fiaui said the phone line provided a way to de-escalate potentially harmful situations, as well as connecting perpetrators of family violence with regional support services.
The phone line was “a starting point”.
“We’ve had a massive influx of calls from around New Zealand.”
Community events such as Arowhenua Whanau Services’ Mental Health Awareness Week event were a way of introducing the service without requiring people to approach domestic violence prevention schemes directly.
It follows the introduction of the Whangaia Nga Pa Harakeke (WNPH) pilot in Gisborne in 2017, a programme which involves social workers and police working directly with families following family violence incidents.
This connection meant people would be more likely to seek help from police or other services in the future, as well as encouraging whanau to have difficult conversations, police representatives have previously said of the service.
He Waka Tapu Trust has been operating for almost 20 years, running a variety of services, including alcohol and drug support, whanau support and health clinics.
Mr Fiaui said the Arowhenua event had prompted some “good ideas” and “good interest” from those who attended a workshop organised by the service.