An Invercargill Rugby League team is fighting back against family violence.
He Tauaa Rugby League Club acting president Fipe Faamoe-Ioane said they are part of the initiative “It’s Not Okay” was about promoting healthy living, positive behaviour and building stronger individuals, families and communities.
The club had always been whānau oriented, but with the help of Southern Zone Rugby League and the Respect Network the club became involved with the initiative in 2016.
Flags and banners with the “It’s Not Ok” message are displayed at the games and club functions.
There had been a decrease in negative behaviour on and off the field from the club since then, Faamoe-Ioane said.
“For us as a club the focus is ongoing as change does not happen overnight.”
For both players and supporters it was important to encourage good behaviour on and off the field, she said.
“Each of us [in the club] have families with children and the most important starting point is within our own families.”
Last week, the club was visited by the family behind Stop the Bus (Stop the AbusE) this week, and will feature in their documentary.
The Lane family, who are behind the Stop the Bus project, were impressed with the work by the club.
The family of six are touring the country to hear the stories people are doing to bring value to Kiwi children.
Erinna Lane said the family, from Te Awamutu, have been on the road for a year and will finish in July, producing a documentary on the issue.
Erinna and her husband Chris are both film producers for Big Kid Productions and saw child abuse as a nationwide issue they wanted to bring awareness to.
Their Stop the Bus project hoped to address child abuse with a focus on what ordinary people can do to be a part of the change, Erinna said.
“Most New Zealanders care about the issue but don’t know what to do to help,” she said.
They have travelled from the far north to the far south and will finish in Blenheim in July.
They had heard stories, mostly personal stories from people throughout the country, but Invercargill stood out with the rugby league team, Erinna said.
Their initiative “It’s Not Okay” had building an environment within the club that family violence was not okay, she said.
“Part of addressing child abuse in New Zealand is not only standing up for the rights of a child but also by taking responsibility for our own actions.”
They were in Invercargill from last Thursday, and headed to Gore on Tuesday on their way back north.