Light-hearted debate on serious issue of violence

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“A good smack never hurt anyone” is the contentious title of a fun and entertaining debate designed to raise awareness about the impact of family violence.

The debate will be held on Monday, September 16 at the Oamaru Opera House.

It marks the beginning of a week of activities for family violence awareness and has been organised by the Waitaki Family Violence Network and supported by Zonta.

Waitaki District Council community safety and development officer Helen Algar said she hoped the community event would provide an opportunity for a light-hearted look at what is a serious issue in New Zealand.

“The evening will also provide an opportunity for people to hear from Vic Tamati of the ‘It’s not OK Campaign’,” Mrs Algar said.

Sponsored by the Oamaru Opera House, entry will be a gold coin donation with proceeds going to the ‘It’s not OK Campaign’.

The evening will include entertainment from local musician Elton Crane, who will be performing acoustic cover songs in the foyer before the debate.

Team members for the affirmative, “The Whackers”, are David Jackson, Danny Park, Steve Hotton and Rebekah Bisson.

Taking the anti-smacking approach in “The Soothers” team will be Blair Wilkinson, Jibi Kunnethedam, Alex Familton and Mrs Algar.

Waitaki Girls’ High School principal Tracy Walker will be moderating the debate.

Oamaru police Senior Sergeant Jason McCoy said while they were going to have some fun with the debate, there was a very serious undertone.

“The fact is in the five years from 2008 until 2012, 127 women and children in New Zealand died as a result of family violence. Of those, 31 were aged under five years,” he said.

Other events during the week will include presentations to four secondary schools alongside some one-on-one facilitation by Mr Tamati and Lesley Elliot of the Sophie Elliott Foundation.

“These activities are a precursor to the White Ribbon Ride which will be in Oamaru on Wednesday November 20 and again on Saturday November 23,“ Mr McCoy said.

Entertainment kicks off at 7pm and entry is by gold coin donation.

By Rebecca Ryan