Keeping whānau safe
Haumarutanga whānau

Support for strong, safe, valued and connected whānau.

Healthy relationships and masculinity

Being Men is a New Zealand Rugby (NZR) video series that explores wellbeing, healthy relationships and masculinity from the perspective of New Zealand men.

Keeping our whānau safe

Families are supposed to be a safe place and be a group of people who you can rely on in good times and in hard. Sadly, this isn’t always the reality for some people. A person may not be safe at home with their whānau for a number of reasons. Read through this information to see some of the factors that may lead to safety concerns. 

NZDF supports a safe whānau approach that means that all members in the whānau can thrive or flourish. We want to support whānau to join fully in the community. We want whānau to be able to contribute to the wellbeing of the wider community (as much as they would like to) through taking part in community groups and clubs, volunteering to help those who are less able or fortunate and helping to create a sense of belonging and identity.

In NZDF we know the importance of the support our whānau provide for our members and the difference they make for us to do our work. In turn there are several ways we support our families, by:

  • Providing family support to personnel on all camps and bases.
  • Supporting flexible work practices where able.
  • Providing opportunities for NZDF families/whānau to connect with each other.
  • Holding regular family events and providing specific activities.
  • By providing specific support to families/whānau during deployments.

What happens at work when safety concerns arise?

If there are safety issues happening at home, or within the whānau it may involve a NZDF member not living the values of our organisation. Equally, it could arise from their family/whānau member with unsafe behaviours or your civilian partner or family member. These unsafe behaviours are heavily influenced by upbringing and experience of healthy relationships. If there are safety concerns happening, then this will require time and focus within the home from the NZDF member and all in the home will need a helping hand from support services.  

If the whānau are not safe or thriving it is likely that this will have an impact at work too. The unit may be impacted by a member needing time off work to manage these issues, being absent or on sick leave. Sometimes the person may also be showing risky behaviours or attitudes, conflict in the team, safety issues during operations or exercises, or the potential for harm to the team.

What can contribute to family safety or harm issues?

Family safety issues are complex and there are often multiple factors or systems contributing to these issues. Here are some examples that lead to family safety concerns in a New Zealand environment:

  • Family violence or family harm.
  • Child abuse or neglect.
  • Sexual violence or harm.
  • Health or mental health issues.
  • Addictions of any kind (alcohol, gambling, gaming, porn).
  • Financial instability.
  • Barriers to clean dry and warm housing or mobility/ transience issues.
  • Barriers to transport or access to community resources.
  • Access to health services or the impact of health conditions (chronic, acute, mental health, genetic, injury or accident, terminal illness).
  • Education or work participation.
  • Justice or other disciplinary process.
  • Lack of meaningful work.
  • Mainstream society attitudes or customs.
  • Lack of cultural support or cultural safety or access to religious practices.
  • Barriers to access early childhood services.
  • Lack of Parenting support.
  • Lack of support when things aren’t going okay.
  • Unable to access the basic necessities to live.

What can you do if your whānau are unsafe?

  • Tell someone you trust and ask for their support to help your whānau be safe.
  • Create a safety plan with someone you trust.
  • Put child safety first and talk to your child educator or health provider or other professional about getting help.
  • The person that is making the environment unsafe needs to be accountable for their behaviours. Try to get them support to change (if it won’t heighten risk for other whānau members). Ensure the safety of any children or vulnerable family/whānau members has been secured first.
  • Learn more about our internal support services here

If you believe another whānau you know are not safe you can ask questions like:

  • Are you ok?
  • Is someone hurting you?
  • Is there anything I can do?

Providing support if someone tells you they are unsafe at home

  • Listen, listen, listen – you don’t need to give advice.
  • Provide practical support – make a meal, take them to support services, be a point of contact on their safety plan, offer to take care of children.
  • Take their story seriously—don’t brush it off.
  • Support them to find their own way through the issue but by just being alongside them you will be helping.
  • Be prepared to take action if you know children are at risk and no one will do anything—phone NZ Police (111) or Oranga Tamariki 0508 326 459. Children don’t have choices about where they live or what they see hear or experience. The adults need to put them first in these situations.
  • Keep connected with them even if they have agencies involved.

Community projects to create positive change

  • Creating networks within existing community settings (church, marae, school) to respond to family safety issues.
  • Find out what some of the gaps are in community resources and get formal partners to advocate for solutions.
  • Create a local community campaign for a national family harm prevention strategy—for example, White Ribbon.
  • Apply for funding to improve community facilities which in turn will support healthy whānau.
  • Invite guest speakers from other communities in the country who have had success with community projects on this topic.