This plan aims to make our city safer and move closer to the goal of it being free of sexual violence. It also aims to remove any public fear of harm.
While Council had been aware of the concerns from the community, what sparked this plan was a movement by the Wellington Alliance Against Sexual Violence – a coalition of youth-led organisations passionate about sexual violence prevention – which called for Wellington City Council and its partners (ie, HospitalityNZ) to prioritise and invest in sexual violence prevention.
Alongside this, an online student-led survey was presented to Wellington City Council in April 2021 and of the 3000 respondents, 90 percent experienced harm in the central city, with 61 percent reporting it was sexual in nature.
In response to this, the Pōneke Promise was signed – a community-driven partnership working to make central Wellington safe, vibrant, and welcoming – working with organisations across Wellington city to deliver on four focus areas, one being harm reduction. From the Pōneke Promise, a role for a Sexual Violence Prevention Project Lead was created to address this mahi full-time.
Jahla Lawrence, who took on this project lead role, says the plan came about from working with community stakeholders, victims/survivors and sexual violence specialists.
“We wanted to develop something that would be enduring and sustainable and based on evidence, rather than a bunch of one-off initiatives that aren’t impactful over a longer period of time.
“We work alongside communities and organisations to help move Pōneke towards being a safe, inclusive and welcoming place for everybody.”