Shine safe at home
Shine safe@home is a crime prevention programme which is having a remarkable impact on the lives of families who have been victims of serious domestic violence. The service targets victims of domestic abuse who are at high risk of repeat victimisation and of serious injury or death (these are mostly women and their children).
6.1% of victims of violent crime suffer 68.4% of all crimes committed (NZ National Survey of Crime Victims 1996).
"Therefore," according to Shine's Executive Director Jane Drumm, "targeting those who are repeatedly victimised is the most effective way to achieve the biggest impact."
What difference is Shine safe@home making for clients?
The service is achieving dramatic results. Thus far, the service has been 100% successful at stopping further assaults in the house, when women have followed the safety plan and are using the security equipment installed.
Statements from victims illustrate the immense reduction in fear and an increase in confidence and optimism after being referred to the programme. Evaluative data is collected from participants to assess their level of fear both before and after the security upgrade work is done. A key evaluative question asked of each participant both before and after the service is:
On a scale of 1 to 7, where would you rate your current fear or risk of harm from the offender?
Many of the women initially report difficulties with sleeping. This disturbed sleep pattern contributes to ongoing fatigue, concentration problems, anxiety and for some, weight loss and depression. Women have frequently commented on a generally improved sense of wellbeing and control of their lives with better, deeper sleep being a significant factor.
The service also makes a dramatic difference for children. For the first 600 children helped by Shine safe@home:
- Before safe@home nearly 60% said they were frightened of the offender and what he might do. This dropped to 31% afterwards.
- 53% had sleep disturbances such as nightmares and bedwetting, this dropped to 12%.
- 56% were displaying aggressive behaviour and this dropped to 21%.
- 26% were experiencing problems at school and this dropped to 9%
What does Shine safe@home provide?
Clients of the service are provided with intensive support from an advocate specialising in working with high risk victims. Based on the comprehensive risk assessment, she develops a risk management plan, part of which is a personalised safety plan for the victim. As part of this support, the security of their homes is upgraded. Starting at the front door, a room by room and then exterior, security audit is conducted of the entire house, assessing points of vulnerability.
The advocate then arranges for workmen such as builders, electricians, glaziers, locksmiths and external maintenance contractors to carry out work she considers necessary. This may include replacing glass panelled front doors with solid wood doors, changing locks, installing safety glass, replacing broken windows, installing security bolts and sensor lights, cutting vegetation near the house etc.
Around 40% of clients are Housing NZ tenants.
A NZ Fire Service fireman visits each woman to undertake a fire safety assessment. They install smoke detectors, offer fire extinguishers and teach all house occupants a fire escape plan if they need to get out of the house in the event of a fire.
Police work closely with advocates as part of a coordinated plan. Many clients receive a personal visit from an officer, who may organize regular patrols in their neighbourhood. Police also visit many of the offenders to warn them to keep away.
Women are offered a personal silent alarm, with a range extending from the house to the letter box. These are supplied by BUPA Care Services and are monitored 24 hours a day by Tunstall. In an emergency, clients just need to press a button on the alarm and be confident that Police will be alerted, responding rapidly.
Shine safe@home does not make the house Fort Knox, it gives women and their children, valuable time to obtain help – time which could save their lives.
Nothing like this was previously done in any systematic way elsewhere in New Zealand before Shine safe@home.
Where is Shine safe@home available?
Shine safe@home operates in central and south Auckland, Tauranga and in Christchurch - in parnership with Aviva (formerly Christchurch Women's Refuge).
The programme was trialled for two years to the end of June 2010 in the Western suburbs of Auckland City, then provided for families throughout Auckland central and the North Shore.
From late 2012, Shine safe@home began operating in three new locations. In South Auckland and Tauranga, this is a Shine with Family Works project. Aviva (formerly Christchurch Women's Refuge) partner with Shine to deliver the programme in Christchurch.
Case study: a mother with three young children
*Before Shine safe@home: self-assessment of current fear or risk of harm 5/7
“I know he has been on the property because things have been moved. At night I cringe every time I hear a car like his. I get up and check out the window. The idea of sleeping pills is crossing my mind. He has threatened to kill me and has put his hands around my throat a couple of times.”
*After Shine safe@home : self-assessment of current fear or risk of harm 2/7
“I feel more reassured every day. I’m feeling much happier. The kids are much safer now and they feel happier. We can focus on life and not worry about broken windows. I still feel a bit anxious at night but not in the day."
Case study: a mother with two young children
She was a mum with two children and owned her own home. Although she was separated from her abusive partner, he continuously sent her threatening texts, and would frequently phone the home and say things to the children like
“I can make your mum disappear.”
He had threatened to kill her on numerous occasions. She feared for her safety, but even more for the safety of her children. The children were petrified of what their father might do and could not sleep at night. Both children compulsively checked that all the doors and windows were locked and never played outside.
A Shine Advocate became involved with the family after the man was arrested for threatening behaviour. The Advocate referred the family to safe@home. After the Shine safe@home Coordinator conducted a home safety assessment for the family, she then organised for a home security upgrade, which included a door restrictor and peep hole, security stays on the windows, sensor lights, and a key locking bolt on the French doors.
On a follow up visit by the Shine safe@home Coordinator, the mum expressed joy and relief that her children were now able to sleep at night and were no longer continuously worried about their dad breaking into the house. The mum was visibly relieved, and expressed hope for their future. Her 9 year old son thanked the Shine safe@home Co-ordinator saying,
“You are the only people that listened to us.”
Safe@home programme awards: