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Pasifika Protective Factors for Family Violence in Aotearoa New Zealand

The front cover of Pasfika Protective Factors for Family Violence in Aotearoa New Zealand report

Recently published research by Associate Professor Yvonne Crichton-Hill and Associate Professor Julia Ioane provides insights and understanding of Pasifika views on family violence. The study explored factors contributing to family violence, protective factors, and mitigating factors, and what helps people heal from family violence from a Pasifika perspective.

Factors contributing to family violence

The study identified a number of factors contributing to family violence at a societal, family, and individual level. Macro level factors included poverty and unemployment, colonisation and immigration, and cultural obligations resulting in increased levels of stress.

"Participants talked about Pasifika families’ experiences of systemic and institutional bias in Aotearoa New Zealand alongside the challenge of adjusting to a new culture. This is not to say that cultural obligations contribute to family violence, rather it was the barriers that limited their ability to fulfil their cultural obligations that created stress and disharmony within family dynamics."

The research found that beliefs about the roles of women and children, and how children should be disciplined were believed to contribute to family violence. Religious beliefs can also support physical discipline of children.

Family and individual factors identified included mental health and addiction issues, history of family violence, and poor social skills.

"Cultural disconnection was emphasised as a contributing factor to family violence, particularly in relation to a lack of understanding about what Pasifika values are. Additionally, cultural disconnection means that families are not able to access social and cultural support if needed."

Pasifika protective factors against family violence

Protective factors against family violence included education and skills development, and strong family and social support networks.

"Education to grow financial literacy, develop workforce pathways, build knowledge about family violence, and enhance ethnic-specific Pasifika cultural knowledge was viewed as an essential component to protecting Pasifika families."

Skills development included building emotional regulation, and relationship and communication skills through Pasifika cultural frameworks. These frameworks were recommended in the study to include an understanding on trauma on children and future generations.

Factors mitigating the impact of family violence

Family violence was found in the research to be mitigated through family and community factors (such as having access to a skilled mediator within the family to support the overcoming of family violence), access to formal culturally appropriate family violence support and services, using cultural processes (such as talanoa), and providing knowledge about family violence to Pasifika communities in appropriate and diverse mechanisms.

Factors supporting healing from family violence

The research found it is important for there to be culturally-appropriate healing support provided for Pasifika families. This included ethnic-specific cultural processes (with the church and faith communities being important avenues for healing), empowerment of Pasifika people, and systemic factors (such as ensuring a well-resourced family violence system that incorporates Pasifika cultural processes and has enough time available to give effect to Pasifika principles of practice).

"Pasifika people can heal from family violence if holistic Pasifika-informed education and Pasifika approaches to work with Pasifika families are used to grow the self-esteem and confidence of Pasifika communities. These protective components must be in place alongside a web of protection that makes room for Pasifika cultural processes within a family violence system that allows time for healing interventions."

The research report concludes with 12 recommendations relating to education, prevention, and intervention.

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