Building a Community of Change

18th of December, 2018

This year marks 45 years of our agency’s work to end family violence and support those affected by it. As with any milestone birthday, it can be timely to look back, and to look forward.

In 1973, some courageous women took the pioneering steps to found Aotearoa’s first women’s refuge. They saw a need, and they responded. They say they were ‘hell-bent’ on bringing about radical social change: they wanted violence to end in our communities. 

As a society we haven’t yet achieved that purpose, although we at Aviva passionately believe that we can. Part of our journey has been acknowledging that different approaches are needed. That’s why we have changed the way we respond to the effects of family violence in our communities. Instead of working with women in isolation of their partners or families, community and loved ones, we decided in 2011 to begin working with the whole family – adults, young people and children of all genders and ethnicities, whether they’re affected by violence in their whanau, experiencing violence in a relationship, or using violence against someone they care about.

Forty-five years on and as a society we’ve seen some wonderful advances – people talk more openly about family and sexual violence; there are high profile campaigns to encourage conversations; we have laws and regulations to protect people; and there are many services to support people in their journey to live violence-free. But as a society we are still nowhere close to ending the problem. That still requires radical social change, one in which we all must be involved.

Just as we were in 1973, Aviva is, and will always be, a social change agency. We believe that New Zealand has the collective potential to build communities and homes that are safe and loving for all children. The real potential of a violence-free Aotearoa calls upon the collective powers and responsibilities of us all to co-create a society that no longer tolerates violence of any kind. Ultimately, this is how we will break the intergenerational cycle of violence.

You are an essential part of the urgent action needed to bring about truly sustainable change. That’s why we’re promoting the message of “Let’s Talk Me Korero” (more about this campaign inside) this Christmas, encouraging us all to talk more about family and sexual violence to bring it out of the shadows even further and make it easier to ask for support. As always, our committed and passionate team have been stretched to the limits this year in providing that support, but without you - our family of volunteers, supporters and partners – that support would not be available at all. Never forget that you are a vital part of helping people to change their lives, their relationships with those they love and, no less importantly, their relationship with themselves. 

As we approach the holiday season we will take time to reset, renew, and be grateful. On behalf of our staff, Board and volunteers, I wish you all a safe and happy holiday with your friends, family and loved ones and look forward to connecting with you in 2019.