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The Right to be Safe Project

The Right to be Safe Project

Interview with Kathy Archibald by The Informer

Kathy Archibald is employed by CAPS Hauraki. She is the project lead for a Primary Prevention Project, Right2bSafe which is about protecting children from sexual abuse. This involves working alongside individuals, families, whanau, communities, organisations, and society in general. This is done by raising awareness of the sexual abuse of children and encouraging increasing protective skills and behaviours, across the spectrum. Where to go for help is widely promoted by promoting spaces and supports that enable responding, healing and recovery for children, families, whanau and communities who have been or, are affected by sexual violence. Kathy works closely with professionals who provide these services.

The interview takes place as one year of the Right2BSafe Campaign in Mercury Bay is about to be celebrated.

Q. Does this programme also include the awareness raising of physical and mental abuse, deprivation etc?

Kathy: Sexual abuse of children can also involve other forms of abuse. Protective skills and behaviours that we are promoting the sexual safety of children will also be supportive of preventing other forms of abuse.

Q. How did you become involved?

Kathy: I have been doing this particular role for six years now. Prior to that, I had worked in the community as a health professional, primarily in prevention. I have always worked in the general area of advocating for the safety of children and particularly, the sexual and physical safety of children. This is close to my heart.

Q. How do you measure the work and its impact?

Kathy: The short term goal for the Mercury Bay Project is “Breaking the Silence-Starting the Conversation” The very long term Goal/Vision is “Children /Tamariki in Mercury Bay are safe from sexual abuse; nourished, nurtured and thriving”.

An Evaluation of the project is now underway. The objectives to measure are:

  • The awareness raising in the community.

  • The effectiveness of the Campaign`s strategies in encouraging increasing protective skills and behaviours.

  • The effectiveness of the Where to Go for Help promotion and possible uptake of accessing responding and healing services.

  • Learning’s to improve further campaigns

Why Mercury Bay?

Kathy: The Mercury Bay Campaign has had a presence for one year. I have so valued the willingness and support of Whitianga Social Services (WSS). Their involvement came about as the result of a workshop for WSS staff and other agencies at which I made a presentation on this subject. There was enthusiasm to do something further and they got right behind it from the beginning. Sheryll Fitzpatrick, the Manager, became the Co-lead in the campaign. I did not know the local people and the local people did not know me; Whitianga Social Services were known and trusted. The collaboration between the Right 2BSafe Project, WSS, the Planning Group and Iwi, has been the reason this programme has been so successful.

Six Champions, local identities with mana/standing in the community, put themselves forward to be the face of the campaign for posters, billboards, radio and interviews. The Champions were there to provide support, and to be there for others to go and talk to if need be. The Champions are committed to continuing to promote this role and have been a great success. Everyone I approached has been supportive and offered their help willingly.

Q. People have asked, ‘Is sexual abuse an issue in Mercury Bay and is that why you are conducting the programme?’

Kathy: “My answer to that is, ‘Not at all.’ There is not a greater incidence of sexual abuse in Mercury Bay than other communities in New Zealand. This community has the courage to stand up and say, “We want our children/tamariki to be sexually safe”.

Q. What is the most important aspect in your evaluation?

Kathy: “Measuring the effectiveness of the Campaign and knowing that we may have made a difference for the sexual safety of some tamariki/children now and in the future in Mercury Bay.

It’s important that the healing aspect is emphasised. Knowing that anyone who has experienced, either present or historical, sexual abuse is supported in knowing the help that is available for their healing. We want all ages to feel safe, besafe, and to heal.”

Q. What next?

Kathy: “We are going to have a celebration to mark a year of the Campaign`s presence in Mercury Bay, over words and a hangi. We will celebrate how well it has gone and thank everyone who has been involved. The Campaign will continue to have a presence in Mercury Bay through the project lead providing support.”

Kathy concludes, “During the busy summer time we are going to have key messaging of how to protect children from sexual abuse. There will be a much larger community present to raise awareness, encourage and increase protective skills and behaviour and always inform where to go for help.

In NZ 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys may have experiences of some form of sexual abuse by the age of 16

Children should not be expected to stop sexual abuse-adults need to act to keep them safe.

Aprox90% of child sexual abuse is by someone know to the family

Children can be abused by anyone - any gender, ethnicity, or age. People who sexually abuse children need specialist help to stop their behaviour.

Where to Get Help

Immediate Danger: Police 111; Child/Tamariki at risk: Oranga Tamariki 0508 326 459,

Concern, support, advice: CAPS Hauraki Free Call 0508 2277 28

Safe to Talk: National Sexual Harm Helpline 0800 044 334 Text 4334

Caption: Sheryll Fitzpatrick,(R), Manager of Whitianga Social Services and Co-lead of the Right2BSafe Campaign with Kathy Archibald, (L), Campaign Lead.

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