Posts tagged ‘violence’

November 28, 2012

Violence costs, fighting violence needs

by Pete George

The ODT reported on the White Ribbon Day rally, which was held on the 21st anniversary of the international White Ribbon Day, aiming to eliminate violence against women.

Call for more funds to fight violence

Domestic violence could be costing the country up to $3 billion a year and agencies and organisations dealing with the problem urgently need more funding, the “Stop violence towards women” rally and concert in Dunedin heard yesterday.

Guest speaker University of Otago faculty of law dean Prof Mark Henaghan told the crowd there were 90,000 police callouts to domestic violence every year, but that was considered to be just 20% of the actual incidence of violence.

“There is no justification for violence against anyone.

“Violence in the house is not an aberration; it’s how our society works; that it’s all right to bully, to put women down,” Prof Henaghan said.

He called for recognition of volunteers, highlighting that 50% of Women’s Refuge staff were unpaid, and for more Government funding to help fight violence, the latter being an unpopular political call because it meant admitting the extent of the problem.

After his talk, Prof Henaghan said he became involved in the issue initially through research projects, and subsequent involvement with Women’s Refuge, Barnardos, police and other groups.

Next year he hopes to apply for six-figure funding to conduct a two- to three-year study into socio-economic factors affecting women, families and violence, where the law can be changed, and combine this with findings and data from earlier studies.

Bonnie Scarth, co-ordinator for concert organisers Dunedin Collaboration Against Family Violence, which liaises with several dozen groups, organisations and government departments, was pleased with the turnout for the event, the first organised in the city on such as big scale.

She said reports of violence were increasing. So too were the numbers of incidents, with a trend emerging that worsening economic pressures were to blame.

“The economic gap is widening and that is driving violence up as people get stressed and find they’re not coping,” Ms Scarth said yesterday.

Violence is one of the most important issues that needs to be addressed. The impacts of violence thread through many parts of our society.

October 12, 2012

Bizarre poll on student drinking

by Pete George

The ODT is running a poll on where students should drink.

How can a group of people like students be ‘contained’ in one area? Especially when they don’t all live in that area. Students, like all other people who live in or visit Dunedin. should have the same freedoms.

  • What about part time students – should they be forced to do a proportional amount of drinking in the North End?
  • And would it mean excluding non-students from drinking in the North End?
  • How would the ‘North End’ be defined?

This really makes no sense. It would be an extreme restritction on civil liberties.

Who is responsible for violence?

This seems to presume that students are responsible for violence in the city. Are they disproportionately violent?

This would limit the freedoms of the vast majority of students who are not violent.

March 24, 2012

Tough stand taken on street violence

by Pete George

From ODT court news:

Court backs judge

Tough stand taken on street violence

The Court of Appeal has reinforced the hardline stance taken by a Dunedin judge against the perpetrators of random street violence in the city.

A 21 year old man was appealing against a 23 month jail sentence for his part in a violent unprovoked attack.

He initiated an altercation, escalated it, and until he was pulled away he punched an unconcious man on the ground several times. There were serious injuries including broken nose and jaw and moderate brain injuries.

Counsel argued that home detention out to have been substituted for imprisonment. He claimed the sentencing judge erred in not giving weight to mitigating features including remorse, lack of previous convictions for violence  and a low risk or reoffending.

If this was an isolated incident the counsel may have a reasonable claim. But gutless street thuggery fueled by booze bravado is a far too common problem.

This person being convicted may be slightly unlucky – but the ‘luck’ is more due to the lottery of gravity of injuries. Deaths (and more serious injuries) have occurred in Dunedin for unprovoked attacks, this could have been a less ‘lucky’ manslaughter or murder conviction.

The court had set out the victim’s situation at some length because it ‘captures well the reality of the consequences of wanton acts of unprovoked violence”.

I don’t have a ‘lock up and throw away the keys’ mentality, and I’d prefer alternatives to imprisonment were used as much as possible.

But I agree with this decision. Strong signals need to be made that thuggery should not be seen as a recreational pastime in conjunction with getting pissed.

An entrenched culture of violence has to be confronted, and it needs to be made clear that a civil society cannot allow deliberate damaging attacks on people to be swept under the judicial carpet.

…the Court of Appeal said the judge did not make any error in reaching the end point of 23 months.

…conduct in attacking a prone “probably unconcious man was cowardly. The consequences for the victim have been severe”.

As already said the severity is down to chance, with the thugs obviously wanting to inflict major physical injuries. This sentence may tough but if that’s what’s necessary to make our streets safe then tough.

I haven’t mentioned names here (they are in the ODT) because I feel I don’t want to single ouit and focus on just a couple of thugs, it’s a much wider problem. There are a lot more of them about, many deserving similar condemnation, and if necessary similar imprisonment.

The victim chose nothing and has suffered significant consequences.

The convicted man chose stupidity and violence so must accept the consequences, which are not as damaging as those of his victim.

Added Sunday, story now online: Court backs hardline sentence for ‘cowardly’ street attack

March 1, 2012

Thrash and trash not just a student problem

by Pete George

Today’s ODT editorial looks at the booze, violence and vandalism problems that are in the spotlight again along with the returned students.

Students and hangers-on

The number of arrests in Dunedin and the “occupations” of those charged last Saturday night in the aftermath of a major Orientation concert at Forsyth Barr Stadium was illustrative of two or three home truths:

  • first, that alcohol, high spirits and congregating youth can often result in trouble;
  • second, that contrary to popular perception, the Dunedin student population does not have a monopoly on police time, nor on violent, offensive or obnoxious behaviour.

Social life engendered by 20,000-odd students is the biggest game in town and unsurprisingly it is the student population with which mayhem is routinely associated.

This is not always entirely fair and there are indications it may be increasingly untrue.

With such a large number of young people, some of whom have recently reached the age of legally getting boozed up and also recently left home, some drunken stupidity and bravado is inevitable.

But most students come to Otago to get a qualification to set themselves in careers and life, and most will not want to ruin that by being arrested or badly injured.

It has long been the case that a proportion of the “trouble” associated with past student events – the Undie 500, for example which, in its final years, descended into riotous disturbances – has been caused by young people who were not students.

That trajectory appears to be on the increase. For example, last Saturday’s 15 arrests, while comprising 11 people between the ages of 18 and 24, included just four students. The others were contractors, labourers, engineers, builders, shearers, a teacher and the unemployed. They hailed from places as far apart as Balclutha and Timaru.

Some of them may be friends or guests of students. Some may, in fact, be flatmates: the cheapest form of housing for a young apprentice builder, for example, is probably in the North Dunedin student sector.

Or they may simply be those attracted from other suburbs, or from further afield, to the city on weekends or nights when the student calendar promises some form of “action”.

It may well be that Dunedin’s university and polytechnic population with its reputation for hard partying increasingly acts as a magnet for any number of “hangers-on”.

This adds a problematic dimension to continued efforts to dampen the anarchic ardour and drunken antics of a minority of students who seem to revel in spoiling events for a high-spirited but generally sensible and law-abiding majority.

It is a problem much wider than the University and Polytechnic, and wider than the city.

I wouldn’t call them “hangers-on”. There appears to be a hard core of opportunist vandals and thugs, some at least from out of town, who use student activities as yet another excuse to trash and thrash. They may be the deliberate instigators of the worst problems.

Those that get arrested, charged and hopefully convicted should be seen in shame in the communities they return to.

February 10, 2012

“Culture key to stopping child abuse”

by Pete George

That’s the headline, but there’s nothing in the article on Green Paper for Vulnerable Children seminar that expands on the statement. The seminar was at the Hutton Theatre yesterday, sponsored by Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull.

Opening the seminar, Mr Cull said New Zealand’s child abuse rates suggested children were not highly valued.

The green paper contained good suggestions of how to protect children, but the issue was a very broad one, he said.

It was crucial to New Zealand’s future that more was done to protect children, he said.

There is an entrenched culture of violence throughout our society. Changing it is a big challenge, as illustrated by an extended blog discussion yesterday:

“It’s common knowledge that male bonding with children begins and ends with sporting events.”

Wrong, it begins with a sound thrashing and ends with a clip around the ear.

Dim-Post is more of an academic/intellectual blog where violence would seem to be out of place but there was strong defence of joking about violence against children.

It’s very difficult changing a culture like that. There were only a few people supporting child violence jokes as acceptable, but notable was the lack of criticism (apart from me).

Joking about violence, and not challenging it, contributes to the culture of violence we have in our society. It’s not just violent people to blame for violence, non-violent people need to speak out against. Remaining passive is a part of the problem.

There are a lot of people prepared to stand up and speak out against violence and other problems facing Kiwi kids. More required.

Hutton Theatre the venue for a discussion on children’s issues

(Channel 9) The Government has been circulating a ‘green paper’ discussion document on children’s issues, with a host of speakers travelling the country.

Dunedin’s Hutton Theatre was the venue for the Dunedin and Invercargill talks, which were described as ‘robust’, by one of the speakers.

January 1, 2012

A new year

by Pete George

After having a bit of a break I’m ready for launching in to a new year. Last year was largely preparatory, having decided to try actually doing something rather than just talking and typing about all the problems we see.

2012 is going to be a year of action, of implementing the ideas and aims that have been proposed.

What actually eventuates is unknown, that will depend on the input of all those who choose to join in and work together. I’ll do what I can to get as many interested and involved as possible.

Apart from my family and my day job I have two main aims for 2012 – being a part of positive change, especially for Dunedin.

Dunedin Voice

The groundwork has been done, support has been encouraging, all that has to be done now is to build on that promising beginning.

All Dunedin MPs have indicated support – but it’s not for them. It should help our MPs connect better with their electorates, but it’s more about giving the people of our city more say and more involvement in local issues.

I’ll start be getting in touch with as many people who expressed interest as possible and get wider ideas and input to see how it should be developed.

All political parties will be invited to take part, as will any local groups or organisations – many have already indicated an interest.

Anyone who wants to be actively involved – please get in touch.

Targetting key issues

There are a number of issues that have already become evident, as indicated by election meetings and what people are talking about.

Poverty (I really don’t like that term but it seems to be what many want to call it) – how to lift the living standard of those at the lower end ot our society.

Jobs – how to generate more and better employment opportunities (closely related to many ‘poverty’ issues).

Sustainability – how to change our way of life so we can leave our world at least as good as we inherited it.

Cannabis – should it be legalised or de-criminalised?

Violence – is one of the biggest problems in our society, it adversely affects many people and many aspects of our lives, family violence and street violence affects people for life (if they survive), it impacts on health, crime, employment and productivity, education etc etc.

Dunedin Voice will be used to discuss and debate issues like these and decide how and what to advocate for, via our MPs, through local government and local agencies, any way that might make a difference.

2012 will be a better year for local involvement in politcis and issues that affect us – we will make sure of that. Things will change for the better because we will make them change.

September 24, 2011

News & views – Saturday 24 September 2011

by Pete George

Labour’s version of National Standards is one of the least surprising policy proposals and bacling:

Labour vow welcome

The majority of Otago primary and intermediate principals have welcomed the Labour Party’s vow to scrap compulsory National Standards should the party win the forthcoming general election.

Mrs Moroney said Labour would require schools to: use recognised assessment tools and teacher judgement to determine the curriculum level a child is achieving; show a child’s rate of progress between reports over the course of a year; identify children not achieving within the curriculum level appropriate to their year at school; decide and report the next learning steps; and report this information in plain language to parents at least twice a year.

a) the chance of Labour being in a position to do this in the next three years is very slim
b) doesn’t it sound very similar to National Standards packaged so it appears as if it’s based on consultation and principal approval?

Support for ethnic women

A gap in Dunedin’s welfare network will be filled when an ethnic women’s support service is set up in the city next month. During a recent visit, Shakti Community Council founder Farida Sultana secured a room in the Dunedin Community House for a drop-in centre, and sought volunteers to help run it.

As a survivor of domestic abuse, who co-wrote a book about her experiences, Purple Dandelion, Ms Farida knew how important it was to have somewhere for ethnic women to turn. She began looking for a centre here after she received reports from social agencies about the increasing demand for the service in Dunedin, and the organisation’s South Island base was destroyed in the Christchurch earthquakes.

The Dunedin centre would open in a part-time capacity in the first week of October, with a co-ordinator already appointed.

It’s sad that a service like this is seen as necesssary, but very good to see it set up.

Violence top slur on police

Violence, sexual misconduct and drink-driving are among more than 1000 allegations against police staff under internal investigation. While there are 1029 active professional standards investigations, on average, 275 complaints are upheld each year, or 8% of all complaints.

Of those, criminal charges have been laid against 37 staff in the past five years. Just eight have been sacked and 46 have resigned over that period.

Auckland barrister Todd Simmonds has represented police officers. He said police these days were far more accountable for their actions but he believed there were some cases where criminal charges were wrongly laid against police officers.

Any statistics like this are a concern but it doesn’t seem like a major problem in a closely scrutinised and often targeted sector that do jobs that often can’t avoid a degree of violence. They should still set an example.

Otago, Southland employment confidence drops

Employment confidence in Otago and Southland fell in the three months to September, but Southland remains in positive territory. The latest Westpac McDermott Miller employment confidence index shows Otago’s confidence falling to 96.7 points in September, compared with 97.3 in June and 100.7 in September last year.

Southland’s confidence fell to 109.1 in September, compared with 113.1 in June and 111.9 in September last year.

The Otago result was the lowest nationwide.

Just a small drop but still a concern.

Winston Peters on ‘Vote Chat’ political forum

New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters was today’s guest at the Otago University ‘Vote Chat’ political forum, and he got stuck in to the media early on. Peters is very critical of media in New Zealand at present, and believes National’s strategy of scheduling the election shortly after the World Cup will leave people in the political dark.

Carol Beaumont on Labour’s newest Party Policy

Labour Party List MP Carol Beaumont was the second politician to front up at ‘Vote Chat’ today. She spoke to 9 Local News about issues of fairness and Labour’s newest Party Policy, which was announced earlier this week.

September 7, 2011

Someone else’s violence

by Pete George

More widespread abuse:

New Zealand: institutionally and systematically condemning our kids to a life of abuse


Today in Parliament a shocking Ombudsman’s report was tabled on how New Zealand is systematically and institutionally failing our children. 

Ombudsman David McGee reported on a series of bullying incidents regarding Hutt Valley High School. Hutt Valley High featured heavily in the media for bullying problems and systematic failures to address the problems in the school, even after an original Education Review Office report had stated that “no issues of safety were identified”.

And in a double hit on mydeology:

The rot at the top: CYF supervisor downplayed sexual assaults


Who watches the watchers?

We aren’t great fans of child abuse on this blog. While I don’t want to speak for James, I think we both expect better behaviour from the people and the organisation responsible for protecting the welfare of children, particularly in a school they’re obliged to attend. McGee makes clear that things have changed at Hutt Valley High, and that Ms Pilbrow has now apologised for the distress caused to victims and their families. Though for victims, this is a case of too little too late.

Matt, it’s up to us to watch the watchers, ordinary people scattered through our violent society need to open our eyes and speak up.

James and Matt are highlighting serious problems up north. It’s easy to see violence and associated issues as someone else’s problem, a problem for other families, other cities, other ethnicities.


We have major problems with violence in Dunedin, the adverse effects of the tentacles of violence are widespread.

Kids lives are being made a misery by violence and abuse. Education is being stuffed up. Families and relationships are being ruined. Here. In Dunedin, in a suburb near you, in a family near you.

We cannot keep ignoring it. We can’t remain silent, passively accepting it as “someone else’s problem”.

We might be lucky enough to have caring non-violent homes and families but our kids are still affected at school and on the streets.

It is our problem, and we have to speak up.

UPDATE: More on this at Kiwiblog.

September 2, 2011

Families Celebrating Fathers Day

by Pete George

1pm – 4pm Sunday 4th  September, 2011

Edgar Sports Centre, Portsmouth Drive.

Free double decker bus leaving from the Octagon – 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm

Free double decker  bus leaving Edgar to Octagon – 1.30pm , 2.30pm, 3.30pm, 4,30pm.

Free Admission, games and sports, activities, story telling, face painting, bouncy castles, karaoke, Bunnings Warehouse presentations and lots of giveaways.

Also featuring Master Chef Finalist – Stu Todd and Highly Flammable

Manaakitia te mauri o te whanau
Nurture the wellbeing of the family.

“Dunedin Collaboration Against Family Violence”

July 25, 2011

News & Views – Monday 25 July 2011

by Pete George

A real bit of winter for a change, the first snow settled where I live (100m) for several years, but still a bare skiff. If it clears and freezes it will be treacherous.

NZ violence among worst in OECD (ODT)

The Government needs to launch an inquiry into why New Zealand has such high domestic violence and maternal mortality rates compared with other Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation (OECD) countries, the head of United Nations Women New Zealand says.

A report by UN Women was released in Wellington yesterday and canvassed 22 developed nations about subjects including domestic violence and maternal mortality.

New Zealand was ranked either at or near the bottom of the countries in the study in both areas, and UN Women New Zealand national president Rae Julian called on the Government to “actively investigate the causes of New Zealand’s high level of maternal mortality and issues of partner violence against women”.

Initiatives needed to be implemented to address the issues highlighted, she said.

This is a major problem in New Zealand, including in Dunedin. Yeah, the government should look at it – again – but it is a problem embedded deep and spread wide throughout our society, including in Dunedin.

Local MPs and local groups should work on local initiatives to address the problem we have with violence.

Key under fire for comments on spies, Norway (ODT)

Prime Minister John Key is under fire for his remarks linking the attacks in Norway to international terrorism and he has admitted confusing the public with his remarks about Israeli backpackers suspected of spying in New Zealand.

This issue has been big online, with arguments raging from  Key’s credibility to over the top attacks on the prime minister.

The ODT article quotes Goff repeating anonymous online attacks, and says Key is not available for comment – of course, he’s in the US!

It has been claimed anonymous attacks (eg “Key’s sickening opportunism over Norway attacks”) have been written by Trevor Mallard but he denies it.

mydeology comments:
Rinse, wash, repeat

Why I still think The Standard got this Key attack wrong
Speaking of sickening opportunism..

If known politicians or anyone representing them are anonymously attacking opponents online it is poor, deceitful and dishonest.

Shanghai-Dunedin links even stronger (ODT)

The way Dunedin has developed its sister city links with Shanghai is a model for others to follow in fostering ties with China, New Zealand consul-general at Shanghai, Michael Swain, says.

At a function at the New Zealand consulate in Shanghai last week, Mr Swain hosted a 16-strong delegation from the Otago Museum and another delegation led by Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, including senior representatives from the University of Otago, Otago Polytechnic, the Otago Chamber of Commerce, Dunedin Shanghai Association and Dunedin Chinese Gardens Trust.

It has helped having a long and respected Chinese community in the city.

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