About Aviva

Aviva is the new name of Christchurch Women's Refuge, which has provided specialist family violence services to women and children living with and surviving family violence service in Cantebury since 1973.

Over the last 40 years we have evolved to support children as well and, since 2012, men who have perptrated family violence. We remain an independent Canterbury-based charity.

The creation of Christchurch Women's Refuge - New Zealand's first women's refuge - in 1973 triggered the development of dozens of other refuges throughout the country. Read more about our founders in our April 2013 newsletter.

Since 1973 we have supported many thousands of Canterbury women and children to become, and stay, safe from family violence. Hear and watch a little about our journey 1973 - 2013.

We currently have 16 full-time and 7 part-time staff, who together support over 1,300 clients every year. We are affiliated to the child-focussed Jigsaw network and also work closely with like-minded agencies who believe in the power of all people to shape their own journeys of change, if given the right support, at the right time, in the right way.

What We Do

Aviva specialises in early intervention family violence services that are designed to stop the cycle of family violence. We have continually evolved our services over the past four decades and continue to do so.

Our group and individual programmes for women, and our children's group programmes, are all approved by the Ministry of Justice. We have a strong focus on children and offer specialised education programmes for children in recognition of their different needs and experiences.

Our social services staff offer support, advocacy, and assistance with accessing essential services (e.g. financial, legal, health, housing etc) and professional referrals.

We provide a free 24-hour support and information phone line which is available throughout New Zealand, and provide access to emergency, temporary accommodation. In partnership with Auckland based agency Shine we deliver the Shine safe@home service to high-risk families in Canterbury.

We support men to overcome family violence through our ReachOut service, which is a service to support men so that they can co-create a respectful and healthy relationship as a partner or parent.

We are also currently designing a specialist family violence peer support programme – the first of its kind in New Zealand – which will draw upon the power and wisdom of women and men who have overcome family violence to support others taking the same journey.

How Aviva Makes a Difference

All of our services are offered in the belief that empowering people to discover their potential will enable them to confront the abuse in their lives and to plan for a better future.

We support women, children and men to recognise the changes they can make to achieve this future, and we offer support to access the practical assistance required to realise their goals.

We support children to feel safe, to understand acceptable relationship behaviour and to believe in a positive, safe future. In this way we help break the cycle of violence in which children can adopt the behaviours they have witnessed or experienced.

We also help strengthen other agencies, government services and sectors of the community to understand and refuse to tolerate family violence.