Gandhi Nivas sees subtantial reduction in family harm
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A community-based programme has shown support for families experiencing family harm by working directly with perpetrators, reducing reoffending by almost 60% over five years.

Total Healthcare is very proud to be one of the original partners and seed funders of the project.

Instead of removing victims after a family harm incident, the Gandhi Nivas early intervention family harm programme removes men from the family home, provides them with temporary housing, 24/7 specialist counselling and support to begin behavioural change, while a wraparound support service is offered to whānau.

Results of a long-term study of the Auckland programme by Massey University, which was launched at Parliament on 30 June, showed it “saved lives”, said Police Minister Stuart Nash.

“This is a programme that I think needs to be rolled out not just across Auckland, but every community across New Zealand,” said the Minister.

Massey University’s Professor Mandy Morgan co-led the research that showed a substantial drop in reoffending after intervention and support by Gandhi Nivas. She said her team’s evaluation offers hope that properly resourced early intervention can contribute to addressing our very real problem of violence in our homes.

The programme, Gandhi Nivas, which is now partially funded by ACC, provides emergency housing and counselling to men who have been issued with a Police Safety Order (PSO) following an act of family harm. Participating agencies describe the initiative as innovative and groundbreaking.

It was originally established for South Asian referrals but since starting in 2014 it has seen over 2500 referrals, most of whom are Māori and Pacific.

When a man is issued with a PSO, he must leave the family home for a set period of time. It’s at this point that some men are taken by Police to one of three Gandhi Nivas homes in Ōtāhuhu, Te Atatū and Papakura. This immediately decreases the likelihood of further family harm, increases safety for the family, and provides the offender with an opportunity to begin the process of behavioural change.

Police Deputy Commissioner, Wallace Haumaha, said: “This research demonstrates that by providing immediate support alongside early intervention for the perpetrator, victim and whānau, we can address the complexity of family harm.” 

ACC’s Chief Customer Officer, Emma Powell, says the elimination of family and sexual violence is a key focus of ACC’s investment in injury prevention programmes in New Zealand.

Ranjna Patel, the founder of Gandhi Nivas and Total Healthcare’s Executive Trustee, says the report’s findings provide a compelling proof of concept for the interventionist model.

“If you want to see transformational change in this country you have to work with the men who are inflicting violent behaviour in the family home. It’s important to support the victims of domestic violence, but that won’t change a man’s behaviour. To end violent behavior, you’ve got to find and address its source.”


Gandhi Nivas 2014-2019: A Statistical Description of Client Demographics and Involvement in Police Recorded Family Violence Occurrences

Massey’s research team, led by Professor Mandy Morgan and Dr Leigh Coombes, assessed the efficacy of the Gandhi Nivas programme for men who are referred to the service with a Police Safety Order (PSO). Researchers focused on the Ōtāhuhu home for a five-year period (January 1 2015 - December 31 2019).

Massey’s research team found that 57.5% of previous offenders did NOT reoffend after engaging with the Gandhi Nivas service.

Men aged in their twenties and thirties are the predominant age group in residence at Gandhi Nivas. Ages range from youthful to elderly - the oldest client is 84 years old and the youngest is 15. The majority of clients are between 20 and 40 (55.98%), with almost 30% in the 20-29 age group.

Lack of employment is a significant issue facing Gandhi Nivas clients. In total, just under half of intake cases (49.72%) show that the client was not in employment at the time they resided at Gandhi Nivas with 47.75% specifically recorded as unemployed.

Relationships with intimate partners and family members accounted for 95% of family harm incidents. 32% were the intimate partner of the victim, 30% were the parent, 20% were the child of the victim, and 7% were siblings. For those involved in intimate partner violence, 69% were cohabiting.

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