Violence prevention

We’re working to ensure children and young people are safe and flourish in Aotearoa New Zealand, and we are protecting the whakapapa of our tamariki, rangatahi and whānau.

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    We all have a role to play in preventing violence and harm from happening in the first place. This involves addressing long-term root causes of inter-generational harm through greater scale and cohesion of activities.

    At ACC we are leading 8 sexual violence prevention related actions in Te Aorerekura, the National Strategy to Eliminate Family Violence and Sexual Violence. We do this with partners in Te Puna Aonui.

    More about Te Aorerekura

    More about Te Puna Aonui

    Why primary prevention?

    Our focus is on primary prevention – that's stopping violence and harm before it happens. There is overwhelming evidence that sexual violence is preventable, but it requires fundamentally changing how we think about preventing violence and harm.

    We know investing early in a person’s life has the greatest potential to make a difference, and we are intensifying our efforts to foster conditions for healthy, mana-enhancing, tapu-enriched relationships across peoples’ lives.

    Lessons from other successful prevention models show how crucial it is that solutions are led by Māori, for and as Māori, as well as other priority groups. We must invest heavily in kaupapa Māori solutions in partnership with hapū and iwi.

    More about Oranga Whakapapa

    What is primary prevention?

    Primary prevention is an evidence-based public health approach that works to create long-term change at the community, cultural, system and societal levels. It is done by strengthening the factors that promote wellbeing and protect against injury and harm, as well as minimising the risk factors.

    Primary prevention is about changing the conditions that enable harm to happen.

    Primary prevention focuses on the entire population and the systemic, structural and social drivers of injury and harm.

    This is done by identifying and decreasing the factors associated with risk, and increasing the factors that promote healthy relationships, wellbeing, and social norms around equality and respect. By increasing these critical protective factors and championing new norms, it is possible to prevent violence from happening.

    The goal is for all people and their communities to have greater wellbeing, be more connected, more resilient, and more empowered.

    How does it work?

    Rather than focusing solely on people who use violence or experience violence, primary prevention goes deeper. It focuses on the whole population and the systemic, structural and social drivers that permit violence to happen in our communities.

    Primary prevention works by identifying and addressing these underlying causes or drivers of violence, such as:

    • social norms
    • practices and structures that influence attitudes
    • behaviours. 

    Primary prevention supports and complements other areas of intervention and crisis response by, in time, reducing pressure on those parts of the system.

    Primary prevention initiatives

    We’re not implementing primary prevention initiatives on our own. We are working closely with our partners to build a more effective, aligned and sustainable primary prevention system. 

    The following are some of the initiatives where we are partnering with communities to design or deliver. It is not an exhaustive list and will be expanded over time.

    Resources for communities

    As part of our commitment to Te Aorerekura and our communities we will be resourcing, co-developing and sharing primary prevention tools that promote healthy, consensual, mana-enhancing and tapu-enriched relationships for tamariki and children, rangatahi and young people, whānau, families and communities.

    We want to make sure that the right resources are freely available so that everyone can be supported to have open and honest conversations about what it means to be mana-enhancing, and the importance of respectful and consenting relationships.

    We are investing in the creation of innovative tools that promote healthy, consensual relationships, and child and youth wellbeing. This includes changing social norms and practices to prevent sexual violence and child sexual abuse.

    Supporting Pasifika communities with Atu-Mai

    Le Va provides New Zealand’s first national Pasifika Spearhead service. It's focused on the primary prevention of family violence, sexual violence and suicidal behaviour for young people.

    The name of the programme is Atu-Mai. It's a community-based violence prevention programme designed to support Pasifika young people to experience safe, healthy and respectful relationships in the context of family and community.

    Atu-Mai aims to equip Pasifika young people and their families with the right knowledge, information, education, resources and tools to prevent violence from happening in the first place.

    The prevention system is complex and requires the right clinical, cultural and community expertise. Integrating a socio-ecological and systems approach provides an effective framework for outcome targets. 

    More about Atu-Mai

    Oranga Whakapapa

    Oranga Whakapapa is a by Māori, for Māori, approach to establish initiatives to prevent sexual violence and create safe communities that enable tamariki, rangatahi and whānau to flourish.

    More about Oranga Whakapapa

    Support for people who've experienced sexual violence

    We provide a fully funded and immediate service for people who've experienced sexual violence. There's also help available for family and whānau of survivors sexual violence.  

    Visit the Find Support website

    Previous Mates & Dates programme

    We previously developed and delivered the Mates & Dates healthy relationships programme between 2014 and 2022. Mates & Dates was taught to approximately 180,000 students, across 433 schools, by 19 dedicated providers.   

    While the Mates & Dates programme has elevated awareness of the importance of sexual violence prevention, ACC’s new approach to the prevention of sexual violence extends beyond education in the classroom and works to address the wider drivers of violence in our society.  

    This primary prevention approach is in line with current evidence of what works best for the prevention of sexual violence. There is little evidence that standalone consent education programmes reduce sexual violence, and a much broader prevention approach is required.

    To achieve the necessary shift in behaviour to prevent violence, healthy relationships and sexuality education still needs to be provided, but this needs to be accessible for all young people, from primary to secondary school.

    This means that this education is best based within all schools, delivered by teachers, with external supports as needed. This is supported by the MOE’s refreshed relationships and sexuality education guidance.  

    The Mates & Dates programme was bought to life by those incredible partners that have delivered to the young people of Aotearoa New Zealand over the last eight years. 

    ACC wants to thank everyone who has contributed to this programme over the years, from development to delivery, front of stage and behind the scenes.  


    Last published: 24 August 2023