Alison Mau: State care abuse inquiry’s gang connections the latest hurdle for vulnerable participants

OPINION: Important ideas often stumble on the detail, something the Royal Commission of Inquiry into historical abuse in state care is fast finding out.

A potentially life-changing concept that would hear survivors’ stories without fear nor favour, is finding itself hobbled by the near impossible task of keeping all comers happy and safe.

Published in Stuff


Family and Sexual Violence Service Provider Update

Kia ora koutou,

Welcome to our newsletter which provides news about the Ministry of Social Development’s work programme to strengthen family violence and sexual violence services.

In this update you’ll find information about:

Psycho-social court support pilot completed

The psycho-social court support service piloted in Auckland over the last 12 months has been completed.

The pilot service provided through Auckland HELP offered psycho-social support and specialist trauma-care and expertise for survivors of sexual violence going through the criminal justice system.

Malatest International evaluated the pilot. The key findings from the evaluation are summarised below.

The evaluation showed the pilot provided survivors with:

  • a sense of empowerment to persevere through the court process
  • an understanding that they were believed and heard
  • psycho-social skills to physically and mentally cope with court processes before, during and after trials.

The pilot provided criminal justice system stakeholders with:

  • a value-for-money service within the criminal justice sector
  • opportunities to better focus on their core responsibilities and tasks within the court system, in the knowledge the court support pilot provided their clients with the support they needed.

The delivery of the pilot highlighted that:

  • although Auckland HELP is based in central Auckland the pilot’s services extended to clients living across and outside of the region
  • the pilot delivered a range of service components for clients throughout all stages of the criminal justice system from service referral through to trial preparation, trial, verdict and any necessary follow up support
  • the delivery of service components and client pathways are complex and non-linear, with continuous support being provided despite potential trial complications like delays, mistrials and appeals.

Feedback from interviews

Quotes from interviews include:

  • “It’s not just about preparing them for [how] the trial is going to be… but also addressing… their experience, what they’re feeling, what they’re going through… Having someone that’s validating and normalising that and also helping prepare them and give them some very tangible skills that they can use while they’re at the court…” (HELP staff)
  •  “A victim was in the stand for three days in the end, and the victim’s mother was needing a lot of support as well and so [CSC] took care of all of that… she’s valuable and really useful at trial… We had a lot going on ourselves, so it meant… we knew the victim and her family were taken care of and [CSC] did a fantastic job there.” (Justice sector stakeholder)

We are currently working to finalise this report with the Malatest team. Once the report is finalised we will publish it on our website.

Find out more about the pilot

Support for the sexual violence services sector

An independent working group has now completed its report on a project to ensure providers are well-supported to respond to the needs of people affected by sexual violence.

Since our last update in May, two more sector working group meetings have been held, where work was completed on the group’s recommendations.

The project’s sponsors – MSD and ACC – have now received the working group’s report which identifies several recommendations to strengthen the support for the sector.

MSD and ACC will now work together to determine the next steps for consideration at a cross-agency government working group later this month.

A further update will be provided in August.

We would like to take this opportunity to again thank the sector working group representatives for their valuable contribution to this project.

Find out more about this project

Upcoming visits to sexual violence providers

We signalled in the last newsletter that we want to visit currently contracted sexual violence service providers to talk about the recent Budget announcement.

In May the Government announced the allocation of $90.3 million to MSD to strengthen support for adult victims/survivors and perpetrators of sexual violence, and their families and whānau. The focus of the funding in the new financial year (2019/20) will be to ensure service continuity.

The meetings will provide an opportunity to reflect on what has been working well, what providers might like to see change, and discuss the opportunities available with increased investment.

We have sent invitations to providers to meet with members of our team between late July and mid-August and are in the process of confirming details.

If you have not received an invitation but are part of the sexual violence sector and interested in contributing to this discussion, please get in touch with us. Email us at and we can arrange to meet with you.

Find out more about the 2019 Budget funding

Safe to talk – finalist in Spirit of Service awards

The national sexual violence helpline – Safe to talk Kōrero mai ka ora – is a finalist in the public sector’s Spirit of Service awards.

Safe to talk provides free, confidential information and support for people affected by sexual violence. People can get advice and support from trained specialists and can be connected to support services in their community.

The Spirit of Service Awards, which are run by the State Services Commission, are an opportunity to celebrate outstanding public services and public sector initiatives delivering great outcomes for New Zealanders.

Between February 2018 and May 2019 Safe to talk connected with over 5,700 people through over 9,800 phone calls, webchats, texts, SMS messages or emails.

Feedback from people who have used Safe to talk is overwhelmingly positive. The first evaluation has shown that Safe to talk is making a difference for people.

People using the service like that they are in control of the process. It creates a space for people to open up and disclose what has happened to them and, when they are ready, be referred to support in their local community so they can continue their journey of recovery. They determine their journey, and when they want to reach out to other frontline support services.

The awards will be announced in September.

Family violence funding approach developed

Over the past year we have been working with providers, communities and other government agencies to develop a new approach to how we fund family violence services.

We have been focused on developing an approach which looks to a future where providers are sustainably-funded and services are whānau-centred, outcomes-focused and integrated.

We heard from people about what needs to change in the current system, in particular to allow services to go beyond crisis management to support long term recovery, helping to enable communities everywhere in New Zealand to eliminate family violence for the next generation.

The themes of what we heard have been incorporated into a new approach, which is now available on the MSD website.

MSD is a member of the wider cross-government Joint Venture to develop new ways of working across government, and with iwi and communities, to reduce family violence and sexual violence through an integrated response.

This funding approach is part of, and will remain responsive to, the work of the Joint Venture.

We will continue to keep you updated.

Update for providers of elder abuse services

Community Law Waikato will be running workshops for providers of Elder Abuse Response Services (EARS) across New Zealand over the next couple of months.

The workshops will focus on legal information and will provide a platform for providers to discuss legal issues and seek advice.

The workshops are intended to complement providers’ existing legal networks and offer an opportunity to providers who have limited access to local legal support.

Community Law Waikato has been contacting EARS providers to determine who is interested in attending the workshops and what content would best meet their needs.

EARS legal helpline

As noted in April’s update to providers, Community Law Waikato is running a helpline which provides legal advice and support to EARS providers.

To access this service, please dial the following phone number followed by the extension:

  • 0800 law hub (0800 529 482)
  • Extn: 212 (or 216 if 212 if unavailable)

The helpline is open 9am to 6pm Monday to Thursday and 9am to 4pm Fridays. You can also leave a message on the weekends.

Please note this service is for EARS providers only; the general public and clients are not able to access legal support through this helpline.

Enhancing elder abuse services

Over the last couple of months, we have been consulting with a number of EARS providers to get an understanding of databases and data practices. From August we will be having more in-depth discussions regarding data practices and opportunities for future data use.

As mentioned previously, our team is looking at how we can further enhance elder abuse services. We are currently finalising a current state report about elder abuse in Aotearoa, with a focus on EARS. We will keep you updated on progress.

New Family Violence Act takes effect

The second phase of changes to strengthen family violence laws took effect on 1 July.

The main changes are:

  • modernising the definition of family violence
  • providing principles to guide decision-making
  • improving the visibility of family violence in the justice system: section 16A of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011
  • naming Family Violence Agencies and removing legal barriers to information sharing between agencies
  • extending Police Safety Orders and increasing support for the bound person
  • improving access to Protection Orders, Property Orders and Safety Programmes
  • protecting victims from offenders on remand: sections 168A and 168B, Criminal Procedure Act 2011

Phase 1 took effect in December last year and strengthened criminal law with three new family violence offences: strangulation/suffocation, assault on a person in a family relationship, coerced marriage or civil union.

Other changes in phase one made it easier for victims to give evidence by a video recording made before a court hearing and give priority to victim safety when deciding to grant bail.

A third phase of implementation will embed two longer-term changes.

Find out more about the changes on the Ministry of Justice website

If you have any queries, about sexual violence service development, please contact us at For queries about the family violence work programme, please contact us at

By Ministry of Social Development
10 July 2019

Whitewashing the truth of why men kill themselves

Imagine the outcry if a man was appointed head of a leading domestic violence prevention organisation? So how come the federal government has just proudly announced a woman, Christine Morgan, as National Suicide Prevention Officer? This is just the latest move by a government determined to deny the fact that suicide is overwhelmingly a male problem, with six out of eight of our daily suicides taking the lives of men.

By Bettina Arndt
Published in Financial Review
10 July 2019

Disparities in police proceedings and court sentencing for females versus males who commit sexual offences in New Zealand

This study investigated whether there are disparities in the way in which police proceed against females and males who commit sexual offences. We explored whether there are discrepancies in the severity of court sentences handed down to female and male sexual offenders. Using police and sentencing data, we compared the proportion of females and males who proceeded to court action once charged with a sexual offence and, separately, the severity of sentencing handed down to both genders. In terms of police decision-making processes, compared to males, a smaller proportion of females proceeded to “court action” for their offences. Furthermore, the severity of sentences handed down to males was greater than those handed down to females, both generally and when the sexual offence could be directly matched. These findings are discussed in the context of gender differences in how these crimes are processed and implications for justice, intervention, and community safety.

For the full article, see Tailor & Francis Online

By Tess Patterson, Linda Hobbs, Nadine McKillop & Kelley Burton
28 March 2019

Canterbury ‘under siege’ as police attend 11 attempted suicide events a day

Canterbury’s mental health is “under siege” following a series of traumatic events, with an average of 11 attempted suicides a day last year.

Police statistics released on Wednesday show 4369 attempted suicide events in Canterbury were reported in 2018, up 59 per cent from 2015. Canterbury was ahead of the rest of the country, with Wellington second at 2670 reported attempts.

Published in Stuff


Convicted child sex offender James Grainger continues his denials

A 68-year-old man convicted of repeated sexual abuse of a teenage boy has gone to prison still denying that anything happened.

James Grainger, of Spreydon, was convicted of 16 charges at a jury trial in the Christchurch District Court and has been assessed as still posing a “medium-to-high” risk.

Judge Paul Kellar said Grainger had still shown no empathy for the victim, or remorse.

He jailed Grainger for nine years and six months after making allowances for his age and for having no previous convictions.

Published in Stuff


Catholic Church sex abuse memorial reinstated as survivors call for meeting with Bishop

The head of the Catholic Church in Auckland has called on parishioners to respect child sex abuse memorial ribbons after abuse survivors raised concerns.

The destruction of a “Loud Fence” memorial outside an Onehunga church on June 1 sparked claims of re-victimisation from a survivors’ group, which said the church continued to minimise or misunderstand the gravity of past abuse.

The church previously said “frightened” children removed ribbons from the fence after Mike Ledingham launched his book The Catholic Boys, which detailed his abuse at the hands of the late Father Francis “Frank” Green, on June 1.

Published in Stuff


Family and Sexual Violence Service Provider Update

Kia ora koutou,

Welcome to our newsletter which provides news about the Ministry of Social Development’s work programme to strengthen family violence and sexual violence services.

In this update you’ll find information about:

Next steps for new funding of sexual violence services

Following the Government’s announcement of new funding for the sexual violence sector we would like to talk to service providers about what this will mean.

In last month’s Wellbeing Budget the Government announced $131 million over four years toward expanding specialist sexual violence services. Of this funding, $90.3 million has been allocated to MSD to strengthen support for adult victims/survivors and perpetrators of sexual violence, and their families and whānau.

We want to visit currently contracted sexual violence service providers from late July to talk about the Budget announcement. This will be an opportunity to reflect on what has been working well, what you might like to see change, and discuss the opportunities available with increased investment. We will be in touch with providers to arrange visits.

If you are not a currently contracted provider but are a part of the sexual violence sector and interested in contributing to this discussion, please get in touch with us. Email us at and we can arrange the details.

Initial focus of the Budget funding

Of the $90.3m funding, $11.7m has been allocated to the 2019/20 financial year. The focus of this funding will be to ensure service continuity for victims/survivors and perpetrators of sexual violence.

Funding for existing services will be allocated to providers in 2019/20 following the same way it was previously allocated, subject to providers maintaining contract and accreditation requirements.

The allocation of funding for kaupapa Māori specialist sexual violence services in 2019/20 is still to be determined.

Contracted sexual violence service providers should have received information from their Partnering for Outcomes contract manager about the initial impact on their contracts. If you have any questions, please contact your contract manager in the first instance.

Find out more about the new funding

Whānau Resilience regional presentations underway

In our last newsletter, we let you know we’d finished shortlisting providers who expressed interest in helping to design and deliver new Whānau Resilience services.

These are services that focus on long term healing and recovery interventions, strengthening whānau to live free from violence and help our communities thrive.

It brings with it a new funding model and approach. Instead of nationally designed services that prescribe the work needing to be done, the change will see providers funded to co-design, then deliver services created by the region, for the region.

Second stage of progress

We are now underway with stage two of the process. This involves shortlisted providers participating in regional presentations being held between May and August.

The first of these regional presentations has started, with providers from the Tasman and Canterbury regions participating in an open presentation to a panel, and their peers.

“To get to this stage is a big achievement,” says Edwina James, Team Leader, Community, Partnerships and Programmes.

“We have had a huge response from providers wanting to be part of this new initiative, and the calibre and quality has been incredibly high.

“Inevitably there are providers who have missed out. But this is about long-term change, and the nature of this new approach means that it will be really important for the providers who are participating to talk to organisations in their communities to understand the needs and strengths of their regions.

“That gives everyone the opportunity to have input into the development of solutions and work together to help break the intergenerational cycle of violence and help our communities thrive.”

Find out more about Whānau Resilience

The initiative supports the wider cross-government Joint Venture to prevent and reduce family violence and sexual violence.

Pouwhakataki roles now on GETS

Do you have a passion for ora tika – love for your community – and want to see it thrive?

This is a reminder that MSD is seeking registrations of interest from people for the roles of Pouwhakataki/Community Connectors (previously known as Kairaranga).

As a Pouwhakataki, you will lead, connect and support providers in your local and regional community to co-design Whanau Resilience services.

If you are interested, you can find our more and register through the Government Electronic Tenders Service. The closing date is this Thursday, 13 June 2019.

Find out more about Whanau Resilience

Fernhill analysis of sexual violence services completed

We have now received the final report and recommendations from the analysis of sexual violence services undertaken by Fernhill Solutions Ltd.

We commissioned the analysis to understand what the full sexual violence landscape looks like – this includes organisations and services not currently funded by MSD – and what the capacity of the current workforce is.

This work is different from the ongoing evaluation of sexual violence services and did not include an analysis of how each individual service operates.

The Fernhill report includes a number of recommendations:

  • Strategic partnering – building strategic collaborations with all stakeholders including funders, professional bodies, associations, NGOs and others to achieve shared outcomes for clients, their families and whānau.The current workforce is unable to meet the growing demand for services, and as a result people have to wait for services.
  • Co-design services – drawing value from long-term strategic relationships alongside hearing and understanding the voice of the client, their family and whānau, service providers and strategic partners to design flexible services that are based on evidence and experience.The current market is working to capacity across all funders.
  • Ensure adequate funding – recognise the true costs of delivering cross agency services and ensure that services are financially sustainable without putting undue additional pressure on service providers to ‘top up’ their funding.
  • Identify fit for purpose service delivery models – evidence-based programmes and learning from one another through evaluation, capability building and honest feedback.
  • Engage the workforce – to ensure that their voices are heard and understood.
  • Reach hard-to-reach populations – working closely with these communities to identify their specific needs which can lead to innovative solutions to address lack of service coverage.
  • Implement integrated, cohesive reporting mechanisms – best practice service design and delivery, with measurable funding outcomes, and standardised reporting to be able to accurately support and target service delivery.

Over the next few months we will continue our work with stakeholders and the sector to consider these recommendations alongside other research (such as recommendations from the work to improve support for the sexual violence sector) in the development of future work programmes.

Further updates will be provided in upcoming newsletters.

Gap in sexual violence post-crisis care

In September last year we highlighted the gap in service provision for many victims/survivors of sexual violence after they have accessed crisis support services.

This gap was identified by providers through both Malatest International’s external evaluation, and our own consultation with several providers. We said that after consulting with a small number of providers to explore this gap further we would share back what we found.

A common experience reported by providers was the requirement to ‘hold’ victims/survivors in their services until they reached independence, or until they can access support through the Integrated Services for Sensitive Claims (funded by ACC) or another appropriate agency.

Key theme of post-crisis care and recovery

A key theme of post-crisis care and recovery is the need for time and resourcing for providers to:

  • work holistically with the victim/survivor to ensure practical needs are met e.g. financial support, housing, transport
  • advocate on behalf of victims/survivors and engage with other services e.g. Work and Income case managers, GPs, mental health
  • work with families, whānau and communities to educate and strengthen support networks around the victim/survivor.

Download the Sexual Violence Post-Crisis Care and Recovery consultation summary (PDF 523.81KB)

Additionally, MSD’s Research and Evaluation team has completed a Rapid Evidence Review summarising the available evidence on the types of post-crisis care and recovery support services that are effective in helping survivors of sexual violence.

Download the Rapid Evidence Review (PDF – 510.76KB)

We will continue to explore this area further to better understand the support survivors need.

Next phase of changes to Family Violence Acts

The second phase of changes to the family violence laws take effect on 1 July.

The Family Violence Act 2018 and the Family Violence (Amendments) Act 2018 improve the legislative framework for family violence by giving priority to the safety of victims, including children, and preventing perpetrators from inflicting family violence.

The new legislation is part of the Joint Venture work programme to transform the response system for victims and perpetrators of family and sexual violence in New Zealand. The Joint Venture leads and coordinates the family violence and sexual violence work programme across 10 government agencies.

Phase one took effect in December last year and strengthened criminal law. Three new family violence offences were introduced: Strangulation/Suffocation, Assault on a Person in a Family Relationship, Coerced Marriage or Civil Union.

Other changes in phase one made it easier for victims to give evidence by a video recording made before a court hearing and give priority to victim safety when deciding to grant bail.

Further measures to strenthen family laws

Phase two brings in a range of other measures to strengthen family laws:

  • making improvements to court orders to keep victims safer and hold perpetrators to account
  • giving greater emphasis to coercive and controlling behaviour in the legal definition of family violence
  • providing principles to guide decision making
  • giving family violence offences greater visibility in the courts
  • removing legal barriers to information sharing between agencies to increase victims’ safety
  • identifying Family Violence Agencies.

From 1 July the Family Violence Act 2018 replaces the Domestic Violence Act 1995.

A third phase of implementation will embed two longer-term changes.  These are:

  • Increasing support for people bound by a Police Safety Order (PSO).  Testing of a risk assessment process for people bound by a PSO concludes in August 2019 and will then be rolled out.
  • The Family Court will be able to direct respondents to Protection Orders, through an assessor, to a wider range of services, such as social services. This will be included in the conditions of a Protection Order and is in addition to attendance at a non-violence programme.

Find out more information about the changes

Child and family research funding avaliable

Are you a social services provider with some research capability, or do you have an idea for a research project that you could partner with another organisation to deliver?

Each year MSD awards up to $750,000 to policy-relevant research projects that explore and analyse the data gathered by the Growing Up in New Zealand (GUiNZ) study, the largest longitudinal study into child development and growing up in 21st century New Zealand.

Applications are open to academics, public and independent research organisations, government agencies, and non-government organisations including iwi-based organisations and service providers.

This year we have introduced a second category of funding to support researchers new to the GUiNZ data. Two categories of funding are available:

  • Standard research grant: Up to $125,000 per proposal. Projects will demonstrate strong research capability, experience with working with longitudinal data.
  • New user grant: Up to $50,000 per proposal. Projects must be led by a principal investigator who has not previously conducted research using GUiNZ data.

Each project will require collaboration with a policy agency to ensure alignment to current policy needs and advice.

“Collaborations between groups are encouraged, and joint working relationships between relevant policy agencies and researchers expected so that we get richer research insights and more comprehensive analyses of how we can improve the wellbeing of New Zealand children and their families,” says Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni.

Read the Minister’s media release

Apply for funding and learn more about the fund

If you have any queries, about sexual violence service development, please contact us at For queries about the family violence work programme, please contact us at

By Ministry of Social Development
12 June 2019

Lawyer loses confidence in state care abuse inquiry

A lawyer who represents people who were abused while in state care says she has lost confidence in the Royal Commission.

Sonja Cooper says the Commission has been holding ‘mock’ or ‘pilot’ sessions with abuse survivors ahead of the official hearings.

Ms Cooper represents about 1400 complainants. She tells Corin Dann that the mock sessions could be traumatising and she would be cautious about recommending her clients to participate in the Commission.

Listen to the story here

By Morning Report
Published in Radio New Zealand
10 June 2019

Royal Commission’s ‘mock’ sessions with survivors

Survivors of abuse in state care have been blindsided by the Royal Commission investigating their treatment holding ‘mock’ interviews with them about their experiences as a practice run ahead of formal proceedings of the inquiry.

The meetings have involved more than 40 of the survivors and some did not understand that their sensitive contributions were part of a pre-inquiry ‘pilot’ by the commission which will not be included as evidence.

Published in Newsroom


From the Chairman’s desk, June 2019

Kia ora koutou

As we close out another successful financial year there is much to reflect on and much to celebrate. We have come a long way since we formed Male Survivors Aotearoa over five years ago. With six member-organisations supporting more than 1,000 men across Aotearoa we are now recognised as the official and authentic voice of New Zealand’s male survivor community both throughout Aotearoa and abroad.

Phillip Chapman, MSA Chair


‘My art is my salvation’

A former Dunedin man abused by two different offenders within the Catholic Church says a love of art has helped him heal.

Michael Haggie, who now lives in Whanganui, has returned to Dunedin to open a new exhibition of his artwork, “The Active Image”, at Moray Gallery.

Published in Otago Daily Times