Increase in sexual assault allegations shows shift in culture, survivors able to come forward, says charity

The increase of sexual assault allegations did not mean that there is more sexual assault, but instead more people were able to come forward with their stories, says Sexual Abuse Prevention Network manager Fiona McNamara.

"We know a lot of people don't speak out about sexual assault, what it actually means is there has been a bit of a shift in our culture now," she told TVNZ 1's Breakfast. 

"People are starting to feel more comfortable coming forward, more comfortable going to police... their bosses, and talk publicly about it, and ultimately that is a good thing."

Ms McNamara said "absolutely something that can change" about the current culture. 

"There's a huge amount of work to do to change all those attitudes and behaviours that are making sexual abuse happen."

She said the increase in conversation around sexual abuse and harassment was helping to raise awareness on the issue and empower people to speak out about their experiences. 

Ms McNamara said it would be better to see the onus on perpetrators to come forward about sexual assault, instead of the survivors/victims, "but I do think it shows amazing strength from all the survivors who have spoken up and it is really good to see this coming into public conversation more". 

A lot of people did not want to report incidents because "they don't want to go through the process of having to re-tell it again and again, and also we know conviction rates are really, really low in New Zealand". 

"For a lot of people they just don't see the point."

Ms McNamara said development of sexual education in school was needed and happening, but adults also needed to be educated over consent as that was where a lot of the present issues lay. 

The Sexual Abuse Prevention Network says the increase in conversation around sexual abuse and harassment was helping to raise awareness on the issue. Source: Breakfast


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Housing NZ board won't be sacked over meth contamination 'fiasco'

The Housing NZ board will not be sacked over the methamphetamine contamination “fiasco”, Housing Minister Phil Twyford has said.

Housing NZ issued an apology to all those who lost their homes as the organisation pursued a conservative policy around meth contamination in properties.

The Housing NZ board will not be sacked over the methamphetamine contamination “fiasco”, the housing minister said. Source: 1 NEWS

Chief executive Andrew McKenzie also apologised for the organisation’s zero tolerance policy around illegal activities, saying they had ignored the issues that had led to people being tenants of Housing NZ.

A report showed that around 800 tenants suffered through Housing NZ’s response to meth contamination.

“Housing NZ acknowledges that around 800 tenants suffered by either losing their tenancies, losing their possessions, being suspended from the public housing waiting list, negative effects on their credit ratings or, in the worst cases, being made homeless," Mr Twyford said.

“Housing NZ is committed to redressing the hardship these tenants faced. This will be done on a case by case basis and the organisation will look to reimburse costs tenants incurred, and make discretionary grants to cover expenses such as moving costs and furniture replacement.”

Phil Twyford says the Government is committed to improving the lives of renters in New Zealand.
Source: 1 NEWS

“They will also receive a formal apology from Housing NZ.

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For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Twyford said it was a failure of the previous government and they have already paid for it because “they are no longer ministers”.

“The approach to methamphetamine from 2013 by the government of the day was a moral and fiscal failure. Housing NZ had been instructed by then ministers to operate like a private sector landlord. This led to the wellbeing of tenants being ignored.

“Even as evidence grew that the meth standard was too low, and ministers acknowledged it wasn’t ‘fit for purpose’, the former government continued to demonise its tenants. At any time they could have called for independent advice. Our Government is choosing to do the right thing.”

About 800 tenants will receive compensation between $2,500 to $3,000. Source: 1 NEWS

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Vice Chancellor Jan Thomas misled students, says Massey University Students' Association president

Massey University Vice Chancellor Jan Thomas misled students over the cancellation of the Don Brash speaking event and the student association has no confidence in her ability to do the job.

Student association president Ngahuia Kirton says her biggest concern to come out of the issue was threats to restrict funding to the association.

"As a whole, students seem to have been misled and I don’t think that their views were properly taken into consideration by the senior leadership team," she told TVNZ1’s Breakfast.

"MUSA’s position is very clear, we have no confidence in the vice chancellor’s ability to discharge her duties, so I would hope that the university council would take that into consideration," she said.

Documents obtained yesterday under the Official Information Act contain correspondence to and from Ms Thomas in the run-up to the cancellation.

In one email on 9 July, the vice-chancellor said she did not want a "te tiriti led university to be seen to be endorsing racist behaviours".

A day later, she emailed to say she would like to know the options for banning the politics club from holding events on campus.

She said the "racist behaviour of Dr Brash - given te reo is an official language of NZ and we are a tiriti-led university - can't be ignored".

Ms Kirton said the vice chancellor’s concerns that Mr Brash’s views didn’t align with the values of the university were valid but students were still misled.

"I think her concerns were more around the fact that Massey University is a teriti-led and her views that Don Brash’s views didn’t align with that is completely valid."

"I’m more concerned about the way she handled the communication and the events that happened afterwards."

"Personally, I don’t agree with Don Brash’s views, and I think many people at the student association also do not agree with them, however I do think university as the critic and conscience of society is a great place to have those healthy debates and these difficult conversations."

Ms Kirton says her biggest concern to come out of the issue was threats to restrict funding to the association.

"The cancellation of the Don Brash events aside, the student association’s biggest concern is actually the threats to restrict funding to student associations to manage backlash."

President Ngahuia Kirton says the student association has no confidence in Jan Thomas’s ability to perform her duties. Source: Breakfast


Refugee quota increase a proud moment, Red Cross says, but now it's time to prepare

Jacinda Ardern's announcement yesterday that we will increase our yearly refugee intake to 1500 by 2020 was a proud moment for New Zealand, says Red Cross official Rachel O'Conner.

But there are some things we will have to do as a nation to prepare for the increase, which will result in New Zealand having doubled its intake in less than five years, she told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning.

"We'll need people to respond, we're going to need people to volunteer, to donate items," she said. "But a lot of it is about...having welcoming communities."

Resettlement, she explained, is difficult - away from family and friends, without work and often having to learn a new language.

"Kiwis have this value of showing care and compassion, and that is what helps build that sense of belonging," said Ms O'Conner, who serves as national migration programmes manager for the humanitarian organisation.

That's 500 extra people who'll be making New Zealand home annually. Source: 1 NEWS

Under the Prime Minister's plan, six new resettlement communities will be established so that existing ones in New Zealand aren't over-burdened. The towns, however, haven't yet been chosen.

"We're going to be looking for councils and community groups to put up their hands and say, 'Yup, we want to be one of the new six'," Ms O'Conner said.

Ms O'Conner described yesterday's announcement as "a great start". But with 1.4 million people in desperate need of resettlement, "we're seeing unprecedented needs globally at the moment", she added, explaining that the Government also needs to take another good look at foreign aid and peace building activities.

Even after yesterday's announcement, New Zealand is far from being a leader in terms of refugee intake numbers.

PM Jacinda Ardern made the announcement today. Source: 1 NEWS

"But we are leaders in the terms of the quality of resettlement that we provide," she said, telling the story of a mum who had carried her disabled teen son on her back for his entire life because they didn't have access to health care in their previous country.

After arriving in Auckland, the boy was given a wheelchair and it changed both of their lives, O'Conner said.

"She kept saying, 'I can't believe I don't have to carry him anymore'," she recalled.

Jacinda Ardern’s announcement yesterday means six new settlement locations will be in the works, Rachel O’Conner told Breakfast. Source: Breakfast