Community-led prevention of domestic violence: An innovative initiative of couples-based course in Aotearoa New Zealand


  • Charlotte Chisnell Eastern Institute of Technology
  • Shajimon Peter
  • Raema Merchant Eastern Institute of Technology
  • Tania Luscombe Innov8, New Zealand
  • Jen Tua Innov8, New Zealand



This paper presents an innovative model for community development interventions for the prevention of domestic violence and abuse and locates social change within neoliberal social, economic, ideological and political contexts. A first-of-its-kind couples-based whānau-centric (family-centred) family harm reduction programme titled Te Manu Tu Tuia (The Bird that Brings the Message) was implemented in the Hawke’s Bay region of Aotearoa New Zealand. The programme targeted 37 couples with a combined history of 1092 family harm reports. A mixed methods evaluation study conducted in 2017 collected quantitative secondary data from the local police and qualitative primary data from semi-structured face-to-face interviews with couples, staff, and local stakeholders and from observation of couples-based weekend sessions. Data analysis was done using a thematic analysis. Findings revealed a significant reduction in reoffending and subsequent police callouts, with an overall reduction of 57 per cent callouts, a 46 per cent increase in participants entering employment, and 8 per cent entering further education. Based on these findings, this paper aims to begin a discussion on the need for making a paradigmatic shift towards a constructive nexus of collaborative relationships involving the police, community based organisations and families for addressing domestic violence. The paper highlights the significance of this approach for understanding and addressing the dynamics of violence and coercive control and existing barriers for effective engagement.



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