Culture change needed to stop sexual abuse says specialist agency

Sexual Abuse Prevention Network calls for the whole community to work together to end sexual abuse, following reports on 8 November of a group of male senior secondary school students from an unnamed school assaulting unconscious girls and posting images online.

“We need to be talking to young people about consent and healthy relationships and the same messages need to be reinforced by all parts of society, including schools, parents or caregivers, peers and popular culture” says Fiona McNamara, General Manager of Sexual Abuse Prevention Network.

“Young people are growing up in a culture in which forced sexual acts are normalised and this needs to change. We need to make healthy respectful sexual relationships the norm.”

“Specialist sexual violence programmes educate young people about sexaul abuse and rape culture as well as healthy sexual relationships and strategies to intervene if you see something dangerous. They are an essential part of creating a culture in which harmful sexual behaviour is unacceptable and in which young people are taught the skills to negotiate mutual, respectful sexual relationships.”

“Furthermore it needs to made clear that the behaviour exhibited by these school boys is unacceptable” says McNamara.

Sexual Abuse Prevention Network is one of several specialist sexual violence agencies in the country that provides education programmes to prevent sexual assault. Programmes are provided in secondary schools, alternative education, youth groups, marae, as well as specialist training for people working with young people. Sexual Abuse Prevention Network is based in Wellington and works nationally with a focus on the Wellington Region. The Network is a collaboration of Wellington Rape Crisis, Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP Foundation and WellStop.

For more information and interviews, contact Fiona McNamara, General Manager, Sexual Abuse Prevention Network    E:     M: 0276310742    W:

Wellington Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Prevention Network AGM

Last week Wellington Rape Crisis (WRC) held their AGM at the Wellington Chocolate Factory. WRC is the lead agency in the Sexual Abuse Prevention Network and Fiona McNamara, Coordinator at SAPN, spoke about our primary prevention work over the last financial year. It has been a busy year for SAPN having successfully run over 60 programmes in the Wellington region, reaching over 1300 participants and further work towards the safer bars initiative.

Alongside this, Tess, Janiece and Michael from Active Wellington talked about their experiences of workshops held by SAPN to educate them about respectful, not respectful and abusive relationships. The speakers were enthusiastic about the workshop space in the new office and the range of activities involved in their learning. It was great to hear such positive feedback from our workshop participants.

The AGM was an excellent opportunity to connect with people in our community who share the same passion for ending sexual abuse.

Ministry of Education relationships education guidelines a positive step

Specialist sexual violence prevention education organization, Sexual Abuse Prevention Network says it is a positive step that Ministry of Education has released updated guidelines for schools on teaching relationships education.

Network Coordinator, Fiona McNamara says: “It is excellent to see that these guidelines have been updated and that sexual violence prevention education is named as an important part of the health curriculum. The next step is for sexual violence prevention education to be made compulsory in schools, rather than an optional part of the curriculum.”

Schools should look to bring in specialist agencies to deliver the content or to assist with integrating it into lessons and to provide training to teachers. “These concepts are most effectively applied when delivered by trained educators as misinformation about sexual assault is widespread.”

“We support the recommendation in the guidelines of a whole school approach. It is important for teachers and other staff to receive specialist training so that sexual violence prevention messages are reinforced by the whole school community, not exclusively during health classes.”

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.

The new guidelines can be found here.

CCDHB Quality Award 2014 Finalist

SAPN is proud to announce that the Who Are You? Steering Committee was selected as a finalist for the CCDHB Quality Award 2014 for the Safer Bars Initiative  – a project working to empower hospitality staff to prevent sexual violence. The award ‘celebrates new, innovative approaches which help to deliver improved quality and safety in both research and clinical practice’.

The Who Are You? steering Committee is compromised of Sexual Abuse Prevention Network, Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP foundation, Wellington Sexual health and Sexual assault Services.

SAPN to present at national hui of TOAH-NNEST

Fiona McNamara and Hayley Adams will present at  “Ki a Ora, Ki Ao Ra: Healing from Within, Affecting Our Wold Today,” the national hui of Te Ohaakii a Hine – National Network Ending Sexual Violence Together (TOAH-NNEST) on behalf of Sexual Abuse Prevention Network and Who Are You? The hui will take place 4-6 March 2015 in Whangarei. Conference registration information is available on the TOAH-NNEST website.

Wellington Safer Bars Initiative

Wellington is considered ‘nationally significant’ as an entertainment destination with almost 600 hospitality businesses and almost 6000 hospitality staff (Wellington City Council). The industry is centered on socializing and having a good time. However, there is harmful behavior happening in our bars too. Half of all rapes in Aotearoa  New Zealand are associated with alcohol (Taskforce for Action on Sexual Violence) and bar staff are in an ideal position to step in to prevent sexual violence before it occurs.

Sexual Abuse Prevention Network has offered awareness and ethical bystander training to hospitality staff since 2009, and from 2013 has been working with the Who are You? Collaboration to implement this as a requirement of hospitality training in Aotearoa New Zealand, starting in Wellington. The Safer Bars Initiative project has explored how to engage bar owners and managers and encourage them to view themselves as a key part of the solution to ending sexual violence.

Who Are You? Steering Committee is comprised of Wellington HELP Foundation, the Wellington Sexual Health Service and Sexual Abuse Prevention Network. Sexual Abuse Prevention Network is a collaboration of Wellington Rape Crisis, Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP Foundation and WellStop. The Safer Bars Initiative has been supported by Wellington Police, Wellington City Council and Ministry of Justice.