About Aviva

Aviva is committed to creating an Aotearoa New Zealand that’s violence-free by supporting social and personal change. Our commitment to this purpose began in 1973, when we were first formed as Christchurch Women's Refuge - New Zealand's first refuge.

Our formation triggered the development of dozens of other refuges throughout the country as a way to support women and children to escape family violence. 

Despite being New Zealand's first refuge, we now prioritise making homes safer for families to remain in them; this is a more sustainable, socially just and modern approach to enhancing safety. 

Since those early days we have evolved to support children, young people and adults of any gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. This is because we believe a holistic approach, supporting all members of the family, is necessary to overcome family and sexual violence, and achieve wellbeing.

We have supported many thousands of Cantabrians to live free from family violence. Hear and watch a little about our journey 1973 - 2013.

We currently have over 40 full or part-time staff, who together support over 1,500 clients every year. All support we provide is offered in a spirit of positivity, potential, and our absolute belief in people's ability, and right, to live violence-free.

What We Offer

Aviva specialises in sexual and family violence services that are designed to support people overcome the effects of violence and create safer, more fulfilling futures.

Our group and individual programmes for adults and children affected by violence are all approved by the Ministry of Justice. We have a strong focus on children and offer specialised services for them in recognition of their different needs and experiences. We have also developed specialist youth services to support young people develop safer and healthier relationships. 

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

We provide a free 24-hour support and information phone line which is available throughout New Zealand, and provide access to temporary accommodation for those with no alternative. In partnership with Auckland based agency Shine we deliver the [email protected] service to high-risk families in Canterbury; this service enhances the physical security of a home, making it safer from forced entry.

We support people to overcome the use of family violence through our ReachOut service. ReachOut predominantly, but not exclusively, supports men to co-create a respectful and healthy relationship with themselves, and others. 

We have designed a specialist family violence peer support programme – the first of its kind in New Zealand – which draws upon the power and wisdom of those who have overcome family violence to support others on their same journey.

We offer microfinance services, including low and no interest loans, to support people escape the financial exclusion that oftens occurs alongside violence, and to remove a key source of stress that can contribute to violence.

We offer the Sexual Assualt Support Service Canterbury (SASSC), in partnership with START, to support adults affected by recent or historic sexual assault, and to undertake medical and legal processes.

We also were a leading partner in the creation of The Loft, a partnership of social, community and health agencies operating in a unique co-location, with a commitment to work together to enhance outcomes for those who need complex support.