Supporting Others to Overcome Sexual Assault

24th of April, 2017

“It is an intense time to meet someone, but it’s immensely rewarding”

Since mid-2014 Aviva has been operating Canterbury’s Sexual Assault Support Service Canterbury (SASSC), in partnership with START. Like family violence, sexual violence is far too prevalent and the effects can be devastating and long-lasting.  

SASSC is a vital service that provides confidential and professional specialist support to women and men following either recent or historic sexual violence or abuse. Whilst paid staff provide this crucial service 9am – 5pm, Monday – Friday, sexual assault, like family violence, doesn’t keep office hours. During evenings and weekends it is a trusted, trained team of dedicated volunteers who provide SASSC.

Erin Helliwell is one of those volunteers. She started volunteering with SASSC when Aviva and START took over the service, formerly known as Safecare, in 2014. Erin was looking for volunteer work related to crisis and trauma that would be relevant to her studies in clinical psychology – SASSC certainly fitted that bill.

Erin commonly volunteers overnight on the weekend, during one of the service’s busier times. Ninety percent of her role involves being on-call on the 24-hour phone line, and accompanying people to the Cambridge Clinic for medical assessment following recent assaults. She also supports people to make Police statements.

“It is an intense time to meet someone” Erin says, “but it’s immensely rewarding. Police and doctors have their jobs to do, and we get in between and have a role that is really unique. We make the victim a cup of tea, hold their hand, and remind them they are not alone. The Police and doctors feed back how valuable that role is.”

Most of the callouts Erin attends are for acute, recent events, whilst phone support may be provided for more historical events; in those cases Erin will talk with people about what they have experienced, and refer them to Aviva’s SASSC counsellor for specialist support.

Supporting people through something so traumatic can be challenging, Erin admits. One of the hardest aspects is when there is family violence present alongside the sexual assault. “Seeing that fear for themselves in another human being is difficult; they may be scared that it will happen again. But the really positive part of the role is being able to soothe someone, and build a relationship with them when they need support – people are so grateful that you are giving them just what they need in that moment. The work pays off, even with 2am call.”

Erin estimates that she has volunteered almost 2,000 hours of time on the SASSC support line since mid-2014. Along with other volunteers, staff and Board members, Erin and her SASSC peers contributed 4,041 hours to Aviva in the 2015–16 year; that is equivalent to almost two years of 40-hour working weeks.

Despite being a busy woman, Erin finds SASSC easy to work into her schedule. “”The roster is good to work with – the weekend shifts are broken into four-hour shifts so you don’t have to give up a whole chunk of your weekend. It’s not constant, and together we make it work.”

Last year SASSC supported 355 people to overcome the effects of sexual assault. Aviva is currently looking to recruit more volunteers; could you be one of those special people, like Erin?

Full training is provided, following which volunteers are given a buddy (an experienced volunteer) to accompany them on their first few call outs, or more if needed. If you’re interested in finding out more about how you too can be a unique supporter of others, please email or call 0800 AVIVA NOW.


Standing Up for Safer Homes

24th of April, 2017

Mike Pero

We’re very excited to announce the appointment of a new ambassador - Mike Pero.

Mike is a well-known New Zealand businessman who has made his name in the mortgage and real estate industry. Mike Pero Real Estate currently has 56 branches throughout New Zealand and his businesses have a strong synergy with Aviva; we each want to support people to create a home that they feel safe and comfortable in, and that can be their haven.

The decision to join Aviva as an ambassador was also a personal one for Mike. “As a child I grew up with violence in my home. My dad was from Rarotonga and he had been brought up to believe that discipline was a physical thing. When he had a few drinks under his belt, his temper could go from 0 to 100 in minutes. I experienced the fear that comes with that - of being a kid and calling the Police to our home, and seeing just how upset my father’s violence made not only my mother and us kids, but my father too.”

Mike grew up in Christchurch’s eastern suburbs, where Aviva is currently based within The Loft (in Eastage Shopping Centre). He is also passionate about showing young people that with determination you can overcome experiences of childhood violence, and that you can make of your future whatever you wish. For many years before he built a successful business empire, Mike trained and worked as a motorcycle mechanic. He is currently patron for Motorcycling New Zealand, and was six times National Motorcycle Road Racing Champion, from 1977–82. The New Zealand land speed record of 238 km/h he set in 1979 for a 350cc motorcycle still stands today.

Mike is also a qualified pilot and has remained a motor racing enthusiast. The Mike Pero Racing Team participates in the V8 SuperTourers Series, with Greg Murphy as the team driver. Mike also opened a classic Japanese motorcycle gallery in Christchurch in 2016.

Mike is married with three teenage children and family is very important to him, so helping Aviva to raise awareness of our services, especially those for young people, and for men overcoming violence, was a great fit. Having met some of the Aviva team at the City2Surf Mike was immediately interested in becoming involved in the work. “I didn’t have to think twice about it” he says. “Family is so important to me; as a father and husband you want to know that your family are protected. I’m proud to stand up and say I’m against family violence and, if by lending my voice and support to this cause I can in any way make a difference, then I am keen to do it. I wish that there had been someone to help my dad and our family when I was younger.”


ReachOut Awarded for Reducing Family Violence Reoffending

24th of November, 2016

A real highlight of 2016 has been seeing ReachOut, our early intervention, proactively offered service for men using or at risk of causing family violence, publicly acknowledged for its success in reducing family violence.

In May ReachOut received two awards at the national Problem-Oriented Policing (POP) Awards. These awards recognise long-term, sustainable crime prevention and reduction. ReachOut, developed in partnership with Canterbury Police, won the award for excellence in reducing repeat victimisations and also received the Supreme Award across all categories.

Based on analysis of Police data, the reoffending rate in the North Canterbury region in the three years prior to ReachOut’s introduction was 18%. This was sustainably reduced to 1.4% (a 92% drop) in the three years following the service’s introduction there in 2012.

In October, Aviva and New Zealand Police presented ReachOut at the 2016 international POP conference in Arizona, USA. ReachOut was also selected as one of only seven out of 27 finalists to be shortlisted for the major Herman Goldstein Award. Whilst ReachOut missed out on winning that award, results were very close and the presentation was highly commended. The judges were rightly impressed by ReachOut’s success in making families and communities safer.

Thank you to everyone who has supported ReachOut over the past four and half years. Most of all, congratulations to all the men who have used the service to enhance their own wellbeing, and the wellbeing of those closest to them. 


Ian's Story of Change

24th of November, 2016

Ian is one of the many men that have benefitted from ReachOut’s support, and so has his family.

Ian has been married for almost 30 years, and recently life brought some changes which caused him a lot of stress. His wife, already experiencing depression, was diagnosed with a degenerative brain disease; his daughter entered a ‘challenging’ teenage period; and his professional life became unstable as his company restructured. Life had become very insecure.

“How I responded to those changes was to become excessively controlling” Ian says.  “I couldn't control things at work, so instead, without realising, I focused my control and criticism on wife and daughter. I constantly pulled my daughter up on her teenage ‘manners’; I accused my wife of not caring about me, despite seeing she was struggling so much. What they both really needed was my love and support.”

Ian’s behaviour caused huge arguments with wife, and his daughter, who was having counselling for anxiety. “My wife suggested we have some time apart. I was very reluctant - it felt like this was the first step of separation - but I knew there was no other option. As I was the one whose behaviour most needed to change, I moved out and we both made a commitment to get appropriate help.

“It was very hard to leave home, but at the same time, I knew if I’d stayed, despite the best of intentions, nothing would change. I knew I needed help to change my behaviour and, as there had been family violence involved, I followed my wife’s suggestion and phoned Aviva. I’d taken the first step...”

Ian’s first session with his ReachOut worker Darragh a few days later proved insightful for him. “He listened to me intently, then respectfully suggested my behaviour wasn't because of stress - it was really because I didn't like or approve of myself. My wife had previously said the same to me many times, but it hadn’t made sense. Darragh explained it in a way I could understand – basically my opinion of myself had formed back in my childhood, which wasn’t great. If my picture of a loving relationship was based on what I saw as a young child, then no wonder it was really distorted.

By the end of his first session, Ian realised the real issue was not all the external factors he was experiencing. “Knowing what the real problem was meant that I could do something about it now. I had hope again” he says.

Ian had to follow his insights up with hard, emotional work that required re-examining his attitudes to his my wife and daughter, and how they might feel experiencing his behaviour. He realised that he had to rebuild his family’s sense of safety before trust, communication, and intimacy could be expected. His change in thinking and understanding affected his actions and when things didn’t go so well, they no longer escalated - a sign that he and his family were creating a new, better way of relating.

For Ian, one of the best moments was reconnecting with his daughter. “One night I described my ‘journey’ so far to her and apologised for my behaviour towards her. She said to me ‘Dad, it’s like you’ve grown up 20 years emotionally and gotten 10 years younger physically - all your worry lines are gone.’ I was blown away by that.”

Ian and his family are now safely back together and working towards a vision of family life for their future. “The difference that the support I received from Aviva has made has been incredible. I see my wife and daughter differently now, I’ve learned to approve of myself and we have started to love each other all over again. There is a totally different atmosphere in our house. We have occasional lapses, but situations do not develop any more. We have a family safety plan together in case one of us should get angry again and we’ve all signed it. Our family now feels like a positive spiral where every bit of progress, every positive difference we see, makes the foundation stronger. So much tension has just....GONE – and for the first time since I was a young child, I feel happy about ME!!” 


Christmas Message from Nicola

24th of November, 2016

Another busy year draws to a close – it’s hard to believe that 2016 is almost over! At Aviva it’s been a year of challenges and celebrations, particularly as we worked hard with our partners to build The Loft and, since moving in, continued to work on keeping our promise to provide better, more accessible services and support to our community.

We also improved our in-school Healthy Relationship programme and through it, supported more young people towards safer, more respectful relationships; extended access to our microfinance services; and joined a high profile national pilot – all on top of our day-to-day work of supporting people on their journeys to violence-free lives.

Hundreds of families every year rely on the services we provide, and so our team at Aviva sends our thanks to you - our family of volunteers, supporters and partners - for joining in this important work. You are an essential part of the change that together we support others to make, and in improving the safety and wellbeing of children and adults throughout Canterbury. We are very privileged that we get to walk alongside people on their journeys.

The recent earthquakes have unnerved and re-traumatised many people, and we expect to see this stress, as has been the case since 2010, reflected in more people using our services. Each year it becomes increasingly difficult to find the resources needed to offer sustainable, effective and free services to the many children, women and men who want the violence in their lives to stop, and from there build safe and fulfilled lives. The majority of our services continue to rely on grants and donations. If you are able to support one of these essential services to make tangible and positive differences in people’s lives, please use the slip accompanying this newsletter. And thank you in advance for doing so! 

Lastly, on behalf of our team, I wish you all a safe and happy holiday with your friends, family and loved ones. Take care of each other, and we’ll see you in 2017.



Unveiling 'The Loft' - A Unique Health and Wellbeing Centre

24th of November, 2016

It’s finally happened! The co-located community, social and health service hub called The Loft that we have been part of creating for four years finally opened on 4 July on the first floor of Eastgate Shopping Centre.

The Loft is not just a physical space; it is a partnership of social, community and health agencies operating in a unique co-location with an intention of better supporting children, young people and families towards wellbeing.

The Loft aims to make access to multiple services much easier, and enable staff across services to work more closely together. It comprises two key service delivery centres. One is a growing hub of social and community services that includes child safety, microfinance, parenting support, social work support and family and sexual violence services. Adjacent is Linwood Medical Centre, home to a range of health providers including general practice, pharmacy, physiotherapy, midwifery, district nursing, older person’s health and mental health services.

Such a broad collection of services, seeking to work in truly integrated ways in the practical delivery of services, is part of what makes The Loft unique in Australasia. But even more important is the way of working. As organisations that support members of our community to achieve wellbeing, we have made a commitment to offer more than our business-as-usual services. By developing and adapting a range of key service processes, such as seamless consent to the multiple service agencies located in The Loft, the intention is to make access to support easier for the people in our community who need assistance.

Since opening on 4 July, over 140 people have walked into The Loft social services area to seek support from the agencies based there, get information or to be linked with appropriate services elsewhere. 


Safe, Fair and Affordable Finance

24th of November, 2016

Many people who experience family violence also experience ‘financial exclusion’ – the lack of access to banking and credit services. For people on low incomes, financial exclusion is considered to be a major factor in causing ongoing poverty.     

With Christmas soon upon us, and a new school year soon after, the next few months will be a time of real concern and worry for many people on low incomes. This year we will be able to do more than ever to support people become more financially independent and improve their wellbeing, as we are now able to extend the benefit of no and low interest credit to more people.

The No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) we began offering in 2014, in partnership with the Good Shepherd NZ and Kiwibank, is now providing access to safe, fair and affordable credit of $1,000 – 2,000 to many more Cantabrians on a low income. Until recently this service was only available to clients of Aviva, or a limited number of referring partner agencies, but now, as long as people meet the criteria, NILS can accept self-referrals.

Further great news is that Aviva can now offer StepUP, a low fixed-interest loan service with no fees, offered in partnership with the Good Shepherd NZ, BNZ and Ministry of Social Development. People who meet the criteria can borrow up to $5,000 and there are no hidden charges and. Again, you can self-refer.

Affordable credit made a big difference to Shona’s life. Shona is in her late 50’s and has a number of medical issues, including epilepsy. Unexpected things had come up, such as dental issues and a broken fridge, and life was financially difficult at the time. “I tried to go to WINZ for support (with getting a new fridge) but they had recently helped with dental expenses” she says. “People suggested I go to DTR (a rental company) but the interest rates were too high. I was unwell during this time which made things even more difficult.”

In talking over options with the Salvation Army, Shona learned about Aviva and the No Interest Loan Scheme we offered. “I knew what I needed to take to the meeting, and I prepared everything I needed. Jeff from the Salvation Army worked with Kendall (from Aviva) to help things go smoothly.”

The process was quick and easy for Shona. “We all worked together; it felt relaxed and calm. Kendall was wonderful, and it only took a week for the money to come through. Aviva took away the worry and stress; you don’t have to go through lots of red tape, and they don’t make you wait. I give them top marks.”

“If there are any issues (around meeting weekly payments), I can contact Kendall and sort it out quickly. It’s not hard to make the repayments; I chose the rate, and $20 per week is really manageable.”

Shona is so positive about her experience that she has been spreading the word about NILS, taking some of Kendall’s business cards to distribute amongst the community to let more people know about the service. “It’s my way of giving back” she says.

People don’t have to be experiencing family violence to be eligible to apply for NILS or StepUP. If you or someone you know might benefit from a no or low interest loan, please visit our microfinance page to learn more about eligibility criteria and what loans can be used for.


Working Together for Better Family Wellbeing

24th of November, 2016

In July a new 12-month family violence response – the Integrated Safety Response (ISR) - was introduced in Canterbury as a pilot for a potential national roll-out. ISR sees core agencies such as Police, Child Youth and Family, Corrections, Health, specialist family violence NGOs and kaupapa Maori services, as well as others, work more closely together as a team to provide intensive support to high risk families.

All family violence Police attendances are referred to a multi-agency daily meeting which assigns them to various lead agencies, based on risk level, and that lead agency then prepares a safety plan, ‘tasks’ other services to provide relevant interventions, and ensures that they do so. Referrals are also received from Corrections when there is a concern of potential serious family violence harm on a prisoner’s release.  

At the beginning of June Aviva was awarded the contract to provide the high risk Independent Victim Specialist (in partnership with He Waka Tapu), and Perpetrator Outreach services component of this pilot. Uniquely, we have established a bi-cultural, co-gendered, co-located and integrated team, based at The Loft, that is able to respond to all members of the family, and provide access to He Waka Tapu’s Kaupapa Maori services where preferred. This is a great example of the integrated way of working that is actively being created in The Loft.

A key feature of ISR is that those identified as high risk of repeat severe to extreme family violence harm are immediately supported by a family violence specialist, in order to reduce the risk of further violence. Reflecting Aviva’s proactive ReachOut service, the ISR model includes an integrated and proactive response for men using, or at risk of causing, family violence harm. The new approach also has a family/whanau focus, which aims to assess and meet the whole family’s needs.

ISR has great potential to improve outcomes for those in our community using and experiencing family violence. Carol, one of the Independent Victim Specialists, explains how the new system is already creating positive change:

“Lucy* was an early referral into the ISR. Her ex had a history of violence and stalking but recently this had escalated and resulted in him driving his car at her, jamming her between her gate and house. Had she not moved quickly it could have resulted in serious injury or death. 

“The response by Police was great, with Lucy feeling well supported and informed. The Police also moved quickly to add extra charges in time for her ex’s court appearance, resulting in him being jailed for a reasonable period. Ministry of Social Development were very responsive and quickly actioned a Housing New Zealand transfer; she then received an alarm through Aviva’s safe@home service; and she was kept well informed by the court’s Victims Advisor.

“The efficient service Lucy received restored her faith in the Police and other services, and very importantly this has been witnessed by her two teenage daughters. Lucy has now completed Aviva’s Ministry of Justice approved women’s education programme and is still well engaged with us.”

As an intensive case management response, this integrated model, if rolled out across the country, could represent a significant and fundamental shift in how we respond to family violence in New Zealand. As such it has the potential to create real and sustainable change for individuals, families and communities.

*not her real name


Supporter Spotlight

24th of March, 2016

We need our supporters and we love it when people help us out. Angela Maslin is someone who has been helping us out since 2011.

With her partner, she began donating regularly to Aviva when we were still Christchurch Women's Refuge. “We are comfortably off and we both wanted to give something back to our wider community” says Angela. When choosing where to invest their donations, for Angela it was about “wanting to help women, children and families, and especially people within New Zealand. I’ve always been very supportive of women’s causes because of the way I was brought up – my mum was a strong feminist.”

Family violence isn’t everyone’s favoured cause but Angela could see how insidious and present it really was. “I had a friend who was really, really smart, but was in a horribly abusive relationship. I can see how that dynamic can develop and how complex it is. That’s why this work is really close to my heart. Who’s to say to it won’t happen to someone in my family or someone I know – they might need your services some day.”

Thanks to Angela, and our many other supporters, those services - including No Interest Loans, Specialist Peer Support, education, advocacy, sexual assault support and Aviva’s Shine safe@home service - are here 24-hours a day, at no cost.

Here is how you, and Angela, make a difference when you support Aviva:

  • $20 helps provide transport to and from group each week for children 
  • $30 could buy Worry Dolls for children attending one education group
  • $60 could ensure our 24-hour support line is answered during the night
  • $70 buys a personal alarm for someone at high risk of repeat or severe violence
  • $150 buys morning tea for children’s group for a term
  • $500 can provide five weeks of family violence education for men who are overcoming violence
  • $1,590 enables a woman to undertake a life-changing 10-week education programme
  • $2,000 enables a child to undertake a life-changing 10-week education programme


A New Way to Wellbeing at The Loft

22nd of March, 2016

Construction is well under way.

If you’ve received our newsletters before, you’ll know that for several years we’ve been talking about the new co-location innovation we are creating with a group of other social services in Eastgate Shopping Centre in Linwood. Now we have a new brand identity to represent not only the space, but the experience it represents.

‘The Loft’ will be home to a wide range of social and health services in what will effectively be a child, family and community health and wellbeing centre on Eastgate’s first floor. The new brand not only names that space as a welcoming, accessible place, but also represents the client journey of moving forward and the concept of rising up. Other brand elements such as the Maori name equivalent - ki te tihi (‘to the summit’) - and the whakatauki created for the brand also reference that journey, whilst embracing and reflecting Christchurch’s diverse and multi-cultural community.

Strategy Design and Advertising were tasked with creating the new identity, one that could represent the diversity of the services coming together, and also encapsulate the essence of clients’ journeys and the accessibility of support to all who need it.

“We wanted to be involved in this project as it is unique and has so much potential to make a positive impact,” says Geoff Cranko, Group Managing Partner of Strategy. “The opportunity to work on an identity for this innovation was something we really wanted to do.”

That innovation is all about promoting collaboration that creates better outcomes for service users. It is a unique proposition in national terms because it creates a significant platform for more integrated delivery of services. One side of the new centre will be dedicated to social services, and the other will deliver an integrated family health centre that supports mental, emotional, social and physical health.

Construction in the space began in early January and the projected opening of The Loft is July 2016.

Thanks to the Lottery Grants Board, Community Facilities Fund; Wayne Francis Charitable Trust; The Mayor’s Earthquake Relief Fund; NZ Red Cross; Ministry of Social Development; Working Together More Fund; and the Rata Foundation’s Capital Projects Fund for their funding support.

To find out more about The Loft, contact

"Poipoia, tautokotia kia ekea te tihi o Oranga" - Through nuture and support you will reach the summit of wellbeing.