A major five-year study taken up by Massey University on Gandhi Nivas’ programmes has concluded that it reduced family harm or domestic violence and reoffending by 60 per cent.

The results of the study, which were presented at Parliament earlier this month, found that by working directly with perpetrators of family violence, Gandhi Nivas was able to prevent almost 60% of the men who have taken part in the programme from reoffending.

The Gandhi Nivas programme, which is 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 ground-breaking.

Once 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 Otahuhu, Te Atatu 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.

The research was co-led by Professor Mandy Morgan from Massey University, who said an early intervention could address the real issues and reduce the chances for further violence.

“The team’s evaluation provides insights and data on the success of the Gandhi Nivas programme, and offers hope that properly resourced early intervention can contribute to addressing our very real problem of violence in our homes,” Professor Morgan said.

Ranjna Patel, the founder of Gandhi Nivas, says the Massey report’s findings provide 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 behaviour, you’ve got to find and address its source,” Dr Patel said.

Gandhi Nivas was initially set up with the aim to address family violence in the Indian and Fiji Indian community in 2014 by renowned local businesswoman Dr Ranjna Patel, and its first house to accommodate the perpetrators for rehabilitation was established in Otahuhu.

Gandhi Nivas now takes a broad range of ethnicities dealing with domestic violence as a major issue in the community. The organisation now has extra homes in Te Atatu and Papakura.

Key findings of the report:

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 use violence who are referred to the service with a Police Safety Order (PSO). Researchers focused on the Otahuhu 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 re-offend 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 the 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.

People can read the full Massey Report on the Total Healthcare website: http://www.totalhealthcare.org.nz/assets/Gandhi-Nivas-Massey-report-2020.pdf.