Specialist sexual violence service supports calls from youth for consent education in schools

Specialist sexual violence prevention organisation, Sexual Abuse Prevention Network supports the calls from secondary school students for compulsory consent education in schools. Widely publicized incidents in Wellington schools over the last week have prompted calls from secondary school students for compulsory consent education. Wellington secondary school students led a march to parliament last week to demand the education and a petition has been launched on online campaign platform, Action Station. “We’ve heard what the young people are saying and we absolutely support their demand. It is essential that we teach young people about consent and healthy relationships. Who knows better what young people need than young people themselves?” says Sexual Abuse Prevention Network General Manager, Fiona McNamara. Sexual Abuse Prevention Network specialises in providing education to young people that teaches young people to recognise the signs of abusive relationships and promotes healthy relationships and consent. SAPN delivers several well developed courses in the Wellington region, including their “Who are You?” programme and ACC’s “Mates and Dates” programme. However, the organisation says that its capacity to be delivering in all schools is currently stretched due to insecure resourcing, and that other specialist providers throughout the country are in the same position. “The government needs to make consent education a priority and fund the delivery of effective specialist programmes accordingly” says McNamara. All young people would benefit from access to education about healthy relationships. “We need programmes to be in every year level in every school. It is important that students receive this education each year at school. We are talking about cultural overhaul – this is not a quick fix...

New Zealand rugby has opportunity to take the lead in transforming harmful sport culture

Sexual Abuse Prevention Network is glad to see the Chief Executive of New Zealand Rugby, Steve Tew, admit that they had handled an investigation of a recent sexual assault claim poorly. Sexual Abuse Prevention Network yesterday released a statement to the media highlighting the inadequacy of an ‘in-house’ investigation into the assault that occurred at an end of season Chiefs function. Tew last night acknowledged that “recent events show we [Rugby New Zealand] have not got it right.” Sexual Abuse Prevention Network General Manager, Fiona McNamara, says: “It’s good to see that New Zealand Rugby has finally conceded that they handled this situation badly. We hope this means Rugby New Zealand will follow up with a robust review of policies and procedures around respectful relationships, as well as taking a critical look at the sport-wide culture towards consent.” “We are disappointed to see that Steve Tew has continually insisted this morning that the allegations were not substantiated given that he accepted the internal investigation was mishandled. We also hope Mr Tew can appreciate that not being believed, and not being supported in judiciary systems, is a significant factor in why less than 9% of sexual assaults are ever reported to New Zealand Police. New Zealand Rugby’s focus needs to shift away from those results, and onto problems with respect within their institution.” “We have reached out to Rugby New Zealand and offered consultation and training on sexual violence, respect and consent.” “New Zealand rugby now has the opportunity to take the lead in transforming harmful culture in New Zealand...

Chiefs ‘in-house’ investigation imitates society-wide power imbalances

Sexual Abuse Prevention Network is disappointed at Rugby New Zealand’s decision to conduct only an in-house investigation of the recent alleged sexual assault at an end of season Chief’s function. The investigation came at the same time as a similar complaint from a woman working an end of season function the previous year, and Chiefs player Michael Allardice was witnessed making homophobic slurs at the same function as was subject to the current investigation. Sexual Abuse Prevention Network General Manager, Fiona McNamara, says “That all three of these incidents have been raised at once shows clearly that the Chiefs have a culture problem.” “It was inappropriate for the investigation to be carried out by the General Legal Counsel for New Zealand Rugby. Scarlette was the final person interviewed as part of the investigation. This meant her full account could not inform the questions put to the 11 purportedly ‘independent’ witnesses.” “The imbalanced power structures in this case imitate the larger, society-wide responses we see to sexual violence. Teams like the Chiefs, and other groups holding powerful positions in New Zealand, have the privilege of closing ranks around each other. They have access to powerful lawyers, public relations managers, and enjoy the ‘hero status’ of sports-people in New Zealand public. These privileges are not shared by Scarlette, or other victim-survivors of sexual violence.” “That the team members received a ‘collective’ warning, rather than individual repercussions for their behaviour on the night of the function, illustrates perfectly how team culture – in sport particularly – can act to diminish personal accountability for gendered violence such as this. Further, the warning was...

Vinyl Bar employees undergo sexual violence prevention training, following criticism from patrons of handling of a sexual assault

Sexual Abuse Prevention Network yesterday facilitated a sexual violence prevention workshop for approximately 20 employees of Hospo Gurus. Hospo Gurus manage five venues in Wellington, including Vinyl Bar on Courtenay Place. ‘It’s Our Business’ is a programme created specifically for hospitality staff and owners. It focusses on sexual violence awareness, bystander intervention, and creating a shared response plan should an event arise. Hospo Gurus contracted Sexual Abuse Prevention Network to deliver this training following a recent incident of sexual harassment at Vinyl Bar last month that sparked outrage on social media. Sexual Abuse Prevention Network General Manager, Fiona McNamara says “It is great to see Hospo Gurus taking the events that occurred last month seriously. Not just the sexual harassment itself, but also their response to the incident in the following days. “We know that alcohol is the most commonly used drug to facilitate sexual violence and that it is a factor in 50% of all sexual assaults in New Zealand. We also know many people have experienced and continue to experience sexual harassment in bars – so commonly that it is sometimes labelled ‘inevitable’. “But it’s not. We need to stop tacitly permitting sexual violence – which is what we are doing when we fail to provide safe spaces for patrons, or when we don’t respond appropriately to incidents of sexual violence. “Hospitality providers are part of the solution. We need bars that are consistently intolerant of sexual violence, and bar staff that are on the same page about how incidents of sexual harassment and violence should be treated. When we create positive consent cultures in these spaces,...

Sexual Abuse Prevention Network says we need to address “lower level” harmful behavior before it becomes extreme “neomasculinism”  

Media release for immediate release    02.02.2015 A ‘neomasculinist’ group is planning worldwide meetups on 6 February, including in Wellington, Auckland and Dunedin. The group, led by American Daryush Valizadeh “Roosh V,” cites extremist views, advocating for the superiority of straight men and encouraging followers to rape women. Sexual Abuse Prevention Network General Manager, Fiona McNamara, says “It would be easy to dismiss this group because it is hard to see how anyone can take these ideas seriously, but unfortunately they have managed to build up tens of thousands of online followers.” “While this group represents a small section of society, these extreme views are built on mainstream culture that supports them. Attitudes and beliefs that seem lower level such as jokes or comments contribute to an environment in which extremist views such as these can exist. We need to make sure we are calling up unacceptable behaviour before it reaches this stage.” “Groups like this show that a small number of individuals hold disturbing views, but we know that wider society does not. The vast majority of people do not believe in ‘neomasculinism’ but there are less extreme harmful attitudes that are widespread and need to be addressed.  Sexual Abuse Prevention Network has a high demand from our communities for healthy relationship and intervention skills education. We need more conversations in our communities that promote healthy relationships so that there are clear positive alternatives to harmful behaviour.” This is the first time that in person meet-ups have been arranged, with Valizadeh citing on his website that the group’s views are now known enough that they “do not have to...

Social Services Select Committee report gives no security to specialist services

Media release for immediate release 15.12.15 The Social Services Select Committee released a report on Friday on the 2013 inquiry into funding for sexual violence services. Sexual Abuse Prevention Network is pleased to see that primary, secondary and tertiary prevention initiatives are recognized in the report as necessary to end sexual violence. “We support the recommendation that the Government develops a national violence prevention framework and action plan that would include sexual violence as a major feature” says General Manager, Fiona McNamara. However, Sexual Abuse Prevention Network notes that the report gives no indication of how the sector will be supported in the immediate future. “We understand that it will take some time to develop a long-term action plan. As a sector we need some stability in the short term as well as the long term. Currently we have no guaranteed funding for our prevention services beyond June 2016” says McNamara. “It is disappointing to see little acknowledgement of the work that the specialist sexual violence sector is currently doing to prevent sexual violence. There are a number of effective initiatives happening throughout the country that are led by the sector and it would be reassuring to see a recommendation that the Government supports these.” Sexual Abuse Prevention Network is a collaboration of Wellington Rape Crisis, Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP Foundation and WellStop. The network delivers primary prevention programmes for rape and sexual abuse in a number of secondary schools in the Wellington Region as well as offering professional development training to professionals working with young people throughout the country....