Cop helps Tonga to fight domestic violence

A Tauranga detective has been helping domestic violence prevention programmes in Tonga.

Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Turner returned from Tonga on Saturday after spending a week on the island in an attempt to help reduce domestic violence.

The National Study on Domestic Violence carried out by the Ma'a Fafine moe Famili in 2009 found 45 per cent of the women surveyed had experienced physical, sexual or emotional violence from her partner in her lifetime with 22 per cent reporting multiple types of violence by her partner.

Mr Turner has been the mentor for the Pacific Prevention of Domestic Violence Programme in Tonga for about 18 months and spent about seven weeks in the country each year. "It's about getting the Tongan police and community to stamp out, or certainly reduce, the incidents of domestic violence," he said.

"It's quite rewarding. There's some very good people within the Tongan police, Tongan Government and Tongan community. The family violence issue isn't going to be solved overnight. It's probably a generational thing."

Mr Turner spent his time working with police staff and other community organisations training and providing advice about how to support victims of domestic violence and how to handle complaints and investigations.

He ran a refresher course for the police, the Tongan Salvation Army, The Tongan Women and Children's Crisis Centre and the Tongan National Centre for Women and Children during his latest visit. He gave the three community organisations a laptop each. Mount Maunganui company Ballance Agri-Nutrients gave its old laptops to the Katikati Lions Club which restored them.

"I make no secret up there that we have a massive domestic violence problem here. We're not lily white. We've got a huge way to go over here. We've started the process about 10 years or 15 years before them. I'm just transferring what we've learnt over 15 years to the Pacific Islands," he said. "It's pretty easy for them to see that we kill 30-odd women and children in New Zealand every year. We're not the be all and end all, but we can help."

Next year, a policewoman will be stationed at each of the women's centres to provide more privacy for women and children to lay complaints about domestic violence. A nurse will also be employed to work at The Tongan Women and Children's Crisis Centre fulltime.

The programme is funded by the New Zealand Agency for International Development and run in conjunction with the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police and the New Zealand Police.

In New Zealand this week, organisations and individuals around the country reflected on domestic violence to mark White Ribbon Day.

Bay of Plenty Times

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