Making a difference . . . Ripple Effect conference presenter Lisa Scott (left) and Waitaki District Council community development manager Helen Algar are excited to host 200 people at a family harm conference in Oamaru later this month. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

Sharing knowledge can be powerful tool when it comes to tackling family harm.

That is exactly what the Ripple Effect family harm conference aims to do with more than 200 people from a range of agencies and providers set to attend the event at the end of the month.

The conference at the Oamaru Opera House will be split over two days for the first time, with presentations and workshops exploring the interrelationships of family harm, mental health and addictions, and vulnerable children.

Fourteen speakers will touch on various issues. New Zealand innovator of the year Ranjna Patel will talk about listening to perpetrators and victims and working through solutions, while Nigel Latta will look at psychological abuse and female perpetrators.

Sir Mark Solomon will explore New Zealand’s dark side of physical and sexual abuse.

Waitaki writer Lisa Scott will draw on personal experiences in her presentation about the ongoing effects of an emotionally abusive relationship.

When Miss Scott wrote about her experience, she was overwhelmed by the number of women who reached out and said they could relate to her story.

“Of course it made me really sad, but we do need to talk about that once that relationships is over, acknowledge that those after-effects aren’t really over, and then what do you do and how do you start to recover?

“We need to acknowledge that this is going to take a long time, and you’re going to be hell on wheels for a while.”

Abuse did not discriminate and it could affect anybody, she said.

Public speaking was previously a large part of her career, but her abusive relationship stopped her from having a voice. The conference would be her first time speaking since 2018 and the opportunity meant a lot, she said.

The conference provided more cultural diversity and more opportunities to learn through workshops this year.

Waitaki District Council community development manager Helen Algar said there would be a range of quality, well-balanced presentations at the conference.

“We really want to challenge people’s thinking and give them some tools that they can take away and incorporate into their practice,” Mrs Algar said.

“Family violence is so many things – we want to highlight the psychological abuse because that’s as impactful as physical abuse.”

The conference, organised by Shirley Bee, was in its third year and Mrs Algar was thrilled this year’s had attracted more attendees than ever before.

“The previous two Waitaki Ripple Effect conferences were replicated in the Bay of Plenty, so the reach is much wider than Waitaki, which has been a real accolade to the quality of work being done here.”