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...
Recent incidents at Wellington College and St Patrick’s Silverstream

Recent incidents at Wellington College and St Patrick’s Silverstream

SAPN was disappointed to hear about the conversations within a private Facebook group of senior Wellington College students. It is never okay to engage in sexual activity with an intoxicated person, and any such contact is illegal. Moreover, the idea of “taking advantage” of someone defies the definition of consent. Likewise, it is disturbing to read reports of younger students at St. Patrick’s College Silverstream making intimate visual recordings of female staff members. It’s clear that young men in New Zealand are being exposed to extremely problematic attitudes towards women, and that these attitudes are translating into harmful actions. SAPN hopes that we can broaden the conversation and use these events to encourage change – both within these schools, and in wider society. There has been a strong focus on the individuals who made the various comments – but it is important to recognize the culture around these individuals that allows them to think that their behaviour is acceptable. Whether it’s the students who ‘liked’ the posts, or the many who saw the comments and said nothing – we need to recognize that these are not one-off, isolated incidents. Likewise, the question about whether these attitudes have transferred into actions supports the myth that it only ‘counts’ as sexual violence when a physical interaction has occurred. A culture that allows young men to communicate in this way, without any intervention, provides a pathway to extreme physical sexual violence. Excuses like “boys will be boys” only create space for these harmful attitudes to thrive. Teenage boys laughing about sexual relations with intoxicated young women on Facebook is all too familiar...

SAPN wins a Grace Gives Grant!

We are excited to announce that SAPN has won a $1,000.00 grant from Grace Gives! Grace Gives is an initiative from Grace Removals, who generously support community organisations throughout New Zealand who: Focus on communities which are excluded or disadvantaged Create relationships and environments where people are empowered to help themselves & each other Actively involve people and communities Build inclusiveness Involve approaches that are likely to bring about solutions to complex problems We are incredibly grateful to everyone who voted for us to receive this grant, which will we use for professional development contributing to the advancement of our staffs cultural knowledge, allowing us to build skills for cross-cultural work that serves Māori in a positive way; ultimately deepening the organisations understanding of the relationship between colonisation and sexual violence. We would like to work towards using Māori models and approaches in our work but first need to develop the understandings and skills within our team to facilitate these with integrity. Congratulations to all the other organisations who received this funding, and thank you, Grace Gives! For more information on this fund, you can have a look at the Grace Gives website...

Vote for SAPN!

We need your votes to win a $1000 community grant from Grace Gives. A generous initiative from Grace Removals. Click here to vote now. It really does take just a few seconds. We’d hugely appreciate you circulating it around your networks too. If we are successful, this grant will contribute to time and professional development towards advancing the cultural knowledge of our staff, in order to deepen our understanding of the relationship between colonisation and sexual violence, and to build necessary skills for cross-cultural work that serves Māori in a positive way. We would like to work towards using Māori models and approaches in our work but first need to develop the understandings and skills within our team to facilitate these with...
NZ Beer Calendar Fundraiser

NZ Beer Calendar Fundraiser

The team behind the NZ Beer Calendar is at it again. If you’re part of the beer or hospitality industry, you can  feature on the calendar. If you’d generally like to support this fun project and valuable fundraiser for us, you can donate or buy a calendar. This year, we are offering an It’s Our Business course, or places for individual staff on a course, for donors from the industry. All details on the...

Job Opportunity: Agency Manager, Wellington Rape Crisis

Wellington Rape Crisis is looking for a new manager. The agency has been providing free services to survivors of rape and sexual abuse for 39 years, and also provides governance to the Sexual Abuse Prevention Network, which runs sexual violence prevention programmes. More information is available...

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,...

SAPN on Back Benches

SAPN General Manager, Fiona, was on Back Benches last week talking about consent education in schools. You can watch the clip below to hear about the work we do with young people – as well as the perspectives of MPs from Labour, National and NZ First...