Phillip Chapman, MSA Chair

“If you light a lamp for someone else it will also brighten your own path.”

Buddah

Kia ora koutou.

As we approach the end of a challenging year it is encouraging to reflect on our substantial achievements during a year impacted by Covid-19; and to approach 2021 with a level of confidence that comes from knowing that we can respond capably in a crisis, and that what we do as an organisation has never been more important than it is right now.

As we emerge from the pandemic, there are hopeful signs that economic recovery will be faster than expected. But we should not expect that people recovery will occur at a similar rate. We must still face the very concerning health, wellbeing, education and poverty statistics that confront Aoteroa, and the appalling incidence of male suicides.

There is still much to be achieved …onwards!

END OF AN ERA?

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service
of others.”

Mahatma Gandhi

In September Ken Clearwater officially resigned as our National Advocate and retired from the MSA Board marking the end of a long, distinguished and celebrated ‘career’ of committed advocacy for male survivors of sexual abuse – an advocacy that has resulted in increased public acknowledgment of the challenges facing male survivors and the creation of a national network of support services. Here is what Ken had to say about his ‘retirement’:

Should I stay or should I go? A question on many lips. For me it was time to
go. After nearly 25 years of working with and supporting male victims of
sexual trauma without a proper break I decided the time was right for me to
retire. I have no regrets I have had the privilege of meeting many amazing
people throughout NZ and the World. The opportunity to share the work of
MSSAT (Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust) started by Iain Bennett in
1997, not just around the world but at the United Nations first workshop on
male victims of sexual trauma in 2013.

I want to acknowledge all those who have supported me over the years, for
us to go from a peer support group in 1991 by Iain till today, being
recognized around the world, including the International Conference in 2017,
the 3rd South-South Institute on Sexual Violence Against Men and Boys.

Since retiring I have been interviewed by Stuff, The Press, NZ Herald, UK
Guardian and TV3, I will continue to fight for male survivors.
training at Police College for Senior Detectives for about 6 years and they
I have done the have asked if I will continue; as it is only twice a year I said I would, airfares,
taxis and fed doesn’t get better than that.

I wish all those supporting male victim/survivors all the best for the future and have a great Xmas and New Year.

On behalf of the male survivor communities across Aotearoa, I want to acknowledge Ken’s extraordinary service, rightfully recognised by his ONZM honours award, but also deeply appreciated by all who have worked with him in a tireless campaign to improve the wellbeing of male survivors.

And I have no doubt that his service is deeply appreciated by the many survivors that he has personally supported over the years.

Ken Clearwater

He can also take some pride in the part he played in advocating the establishment of a Royal Commission of Enquiry that is currently in progress.

Pictured here with his new ‘travelling home’ I suspect we haven’t seen the last of our friend and colleague. I know he will be spotted in many parts of New Zealand next year and even perhaps… across the Tasman.

We wish him all the best as he takes ‘time-out’ to spend well-earned personal time with his family and friends.

PUBLIC ENQUIRY

“Other kids would hang themselves or kill themselves and one of the other boys would find them. And then we’d hear the scream echo through and knew what had happened, and that’s just a scream you never forget. I never actually found one myself, but the staff used to take you along and show you the body and tell you this is what happens to the weak.”

Survivor’s statement to the Commission

Last week the Royal Commission of Enquiry into Abuse in Care published an interim report (accessible here).

There has been a long overdue expression of public outrage at the level of sexual (and other) abuse suffered by survivors in the care of people that they should have been able to trust. And understandable dismay at the organised and deliberate cover up of these scandalous activities by, again, organisations that both survivors, and the public at large, should be able to have confidence in. Alas, many Government and religious organisations have much to answer for. It is simply astonishing that some institutions are still looking to the law to protect their involvement in indefensible abuse of vulnerable people in their care.

MSA continues to have reservations about the Commission commitment to achieving effective outcomes for survivors. But we are totally supportive of our peer workers who have been actively working to support survivors, and each other, to tell their stories and hopefully encourage a just and effective response from the Commission.

KIA MĀRIRE – EFFECTIVENESS WITH MĀORI

In August we officially launched our Kia Mārire strategy at a specially convened National Hui hosted on the Whakatu Marae in Nelson. Shane Graham, Chair of our Te Ropu Tautoko, formally welcomed the Trustees, members of the Te Ropu and guests representing the leadership of our 11 Member Organisations (MMO’s) and a group of our peer workers fresh from a peer support training programme.

Whakatu Marae in Nelson

The leaders of each MMO were presented with a taonga in memory of this special event and to reflect the appreciation of the MSA trustees for their commitment to our shared national ambition for our survivor communities in New Zealand – “providing a sustainable national network of appropriate and high-quality services for male survivors of sexual, physical, emotional, psychological and family violence, harm or abuse”.

I and my fellow trustees are indebted to Shane and the members of the Te Ropu Tautoko for creating and energising Kia Mārire – an opportunity to enable and support the national organisation and our MMO’s to become more effective with Māori in providing services for Māori survivors across Aotearoa.

There was also a special celebratory welcome for our newly appointed Pouarahi Māori, Vince Underwood, who took up his position in August. Vince, with the guidance and support of the Ropu Tautoko will be working with our MMO leadership to help facilitate the Kia Mārire initiatives.

In September we published Te Reo versions of our Peer Support and Client Rights booklets. And in October Vince launched our national cultural awareness programme. Small steps on an ambitious journey to be more nationally effective with and for Māori.

COVID-19

In April we issued our Practice Note to support our MMO’s responding to survivors within a restricted Covid-19 environment. There was an immediate shift to remote support using everyone’s favourite ZOOM platform … a communication mode that continues to sustain the majority of our national communications ever since.

The response to remote support was mixed with many survivors preferring face-to- face contact. Covid-19 funding packages, available to most MMO’s, enabled Zoom subscriptions, communications technology upgrades and the supply of mobile phones and phone cards that enabled peer workers and survivors to maintain contact during the lock-down phase. This focus on communications is reflected in our national statistics, which only show a relatively brief marginal decline in survivor contacts during this period.

Covid-19 funding packages also enabled many of our centres to equip themselves with appropriate protective equipment and to establish processes for managing contacts in a pandemic environment.

This was also a challenging period for our homeless survivors with a substantial increase in support activities at our Nelson service centre, which increased local awareness of the plight of the homeless… and will result in the establishment of a new day shelter at the centre!

Our Otago centre also responded to this challenge, launching a new day shelter initiative, in collaboration with Presbyterian Services Otago, to support Dunedin’s homeless and needy.

GROWING OUR NATIONAL NETWORK

Another significant achievement has been the substantial growth during this year in the national network of Member Organisations providing peer support, social work and counselling services to more than 3,000 male survivors across the country. In spite of Covid-19 impacts we will have established and sustained five new service centres by the end of this financial year – beginning an exciting journey for the local peer workers and trustees that will guide these new MMO’s to develop services that respond to their local survivor communities.

Male Survivors Tai Tokerau and Male Survivors Taranaki were established in August, each with a Board of Trustees, managing peer workers and a suitably equipped service centre. Male Survivors Hawkes Bay, a collaboration with Dove Hawkes Bay, became operational in October and Male Survivors Tairawhiti, a collaboration with the Tauawhi Men’s Centre is expected to be fully operational in the new year. Along with a reinvigorated Male Survivors Bay of Plenty, these four new centres complete our national network of eleven service centres – a strategy enabled by special funding allocated in the Governments’ 2019 budget for the provision of support services for male survivors.

Male Survivor National network

A few notes about other developments around the country:

  • Nelson (The Male Room) is engaged in extending its services throughout Marlborough, establishing a peer support service on the West Coast and building a new day shelter to support its work with the homeless community in Nelson.
  • Otago (Male Survivors Otago) has established a base in Central Otago, reconnected with the local corrections facility in South Otago and is collaborating with Presbyterian Services Otago to operate a day shelter in Dunedin for the homeless and needy.
  • Wellington (Road Forward Trust) has moved into new premises and is expanding its staffing to cope with an increasing local client load.
  • Waikato (Male Support Services) has recently employed a group of psychologists, which will enable an increased presence in schools, and is considering a move to new premises to accommodate a substantial ongoing growth in client numbers.
  • Auckland (Better Blokes) is working with MSD to explore ways to expand its presence in South Auckland.

From the Chairman’s Desk (December 2020)

DEVELOPING OUR PEOPLE

Peer Support Training

We continue to focus on our national training strategy to develop the capacity and capability of our peer workers. In November another 19 peer workers (pictured below completed the Intentional Peer Support programme.

Our peer workers

In the new year we will launch a new programme “Hosting Peer Support Groups” to train experienced peer workers in peer group ‘leadership’. This training, developed in collaboration with Better Blokes (Auckland), will enable us to respond to an increasing demand for survivor access to MMO peer support groups across the country.

During the year peer workers from a number of our MMO’s attended Webinar training on Mental Health, Addictions and Managing Boundaries. We hope to provide a webinar series on Suicide Prevention in the new year.

Unfortunately, there has been no significant progress on the development of the NZQA peer support standard that was being progressed by Careerforce. We intend to pursue that development in 2021 with the objective of providing options for our experienced peer workers to gain a recognised qualification that endorses their expertise and ability to contribute to positive wellbeing outcomes within the sexual violence sector.

Committee for Survivors

The MSA Committee for Survivors was established to provide a ‘consumer advocacy council’ as required by our national service standards.

The membership of the committee, which is comprised of the managers of our 11 MMO’s plus our Pouarahi Māori and our National Systems manager, has met (Zoomed) fortnightly during the latter half of the year to share information and provide feedback to MSA on a range of policy and practice issues. The Committee has provided a very useful platform to increase collaborative engagement and understanding across our MMO’s and is an excellent forum for managers to seek advice and share ideas with their colleagues.

DEVELOPING OUR SERVICES

Based on MMO reports at the end of the first quarter of Fiscal 2021 (September), the national network statistics show that an increasing number of survivors from across New Zealand are accessing our support services:

Key areas for national service development, which will be addressed in collaboration with MSD during the first quarter of 2021 include:

  • Working with the Department of Corrections to enable increased access for our peer support activities within the prisons. This is seen as a positive way to address a critical shortage of counsellors and an opportunity to develop positive relationships with inmates who will often become clients when they are released on probation.
  • Working with ACC to credentialise peer support as a valid recovery pathway for survivors and seeking ways to have this work remunerated.

Quality Assurance

The MSA Board has a strategy of conducting an annual rolling review of our national policies – a process to be progressed as a collaborative engagement with our MMO’s. Based on the fact that a lack of appropriate supervision represents a critical (national) service quality risk, our national Supervision Policy (and related Supervision Agreement) was prioritised for a QA review during Fiscal 2021.

The policy was recently amended to take proper account of our cultural supervision requirements – an update informed by our Kia Mārire strategy – Thank you Vince Underwood.

Mike Cagney (trustee) was engaged by the Board to complete the review and reports that to date “the review has been a very positive and engaging experience for our MMO leadership and management. The review has essentially been an educative process which is achieving our intention of encouraging compliance though understanding.”

It is already clear that supervising peer workers requires a particular understanding of their role and that supervisors who are more familiar with traditional therapeutic practices focus may not provide effective supervision for our peer-worker community. How we can address this issue is likely to be an outcome of the review.

As of now the review is 70% complete with a full report to the Board due by the end of the first quarter 2021. We intend to publish the key learnings from the review and to action any policy improvement opportunities.

STRENGTHENING GOVERNANCE

As we bid Ken Clearwater farewell as a retiring Board member, it is our privilege to welcome two new trustees to the Board of MSA.

Dexter Traill

Dexter Traill is a member of our Ropu Tautoko and the NZ Police Manager Māori Responsiveness. Dexter will strengthen both Māori representation on the Board and also expand the voice of our Ropu Tautoko in support of our Kia Mārire strategy

Jules Gross

Jules Gross is Chair of Male Survivors Otago, a Senior Research Fellow at Otago University and a member of the MSA Research Committee. Jules will represent the Southern region MMO’s on the Board – Male Survivors Canterbury, Male Survivors Otago (& Southland)

On behalf of my fellow trustees,
Noho ora mai

Philip Chapman
Chair
Ngā mihi o te wā me te Tau Hou


Please look after yourself over the break, be present for your family and friends, and keep in touch with your colleagues and our survivors.