The function of crisis support services responding to sexual violence perpetrated against adults and young people is to mitigate the psychological impacts of that sexual violence so that the survivor’s psychological, social, physical, economic and spiritual well-being can be restored.  While this has been done from a “grass roots” perspective for the last 30 years, advances in science mean that we can now link what we do to the expanding evidence base.  It is in the interests of survivors that our work is informed by this evidence.

In addition, funding streams are increasingly requiring such links between evidence base and practice.     The purpose of this project was to update existing Good Practice Guidelines, building upon the findings of the initial project conducted in 2009. The development of Good Practice Guidelines aims to support good practice across the country to a range of population groups and provide the opportunity for transparency and accountability with service partners, NZ Police and DSAC trained medical staff, with service funders and our community.

This project seeks to:

  • Review the principles of good practice for provision of crisis support services to survivors of sexual violence and the Vision for services
  • Update the evidence base for the principles
  • Extend the guidelines to working with survivors from diverse communities.

To achieve the latter, we formed research partnerships with people from a variety of communities, foremost among these being Māori/ tāngata whenua.  Other communities or groups we partnered with to establish good practice when working with their members following sexual assault include:  Pacific communities, Muslim women, people identifying as LGBTI, males, people with disabilities, and also people from Asian communities.  While this is not an exhaustive list of those impacted by sexual violence, these groups have been chosen because of high numbers of survivors or the existence of particular challenges in service delivery.

Sector Feedback

In order to review and update the 2009 guidelines, our initial focus was on obtaining feedback and consultation with services, service partners and key stakeholders during the TOAH-NNEST annual hui 2015 (held in Whangarei). For this purpose, given the expertise of the sector, and the importance of capturing feedback, we presented a workshop at the hui to access a range of suggestions (via questionnaire and informal interviews) for the ongoing development of the guidelines.
The general feedback obtained from the sector in regards to the 2009 Guidelines was that:

  • The Guidelines were content rich and captured significant practices of crisis work well, while also providing guidance for ongoing development.
  • Some of the criticism included the limited availability of the guidelines to the sector (e.g. 50% of the questionnaire respondents were not able to access the Guidelines report and/or were unaware it existed). In addition, of those who had accessed the report, challenges finding specific information quickly (given the content load) were raised.
  • Recommendations were made to provide improved dissemination of the guidelines information, in a way that was accessible to the sector (as a whole).


Researchers: In order to complete the requirements of this project, a Lead researcher with both research and sector/practitioner knowledge, was contracted to conduct the primary research tasks. The work of the Lead Researcher was overseen and supported by the Principle Project Supervisor.

Lead Researcher: Dr Julie Wharewera-Mika (Ngāti Awa, Ngāi Tūhoe, Te Whānau ā Apanui): Julie is a Director, Clinical Psychologist and Researcher with The Flying Doctors –Ngā Manu Ārahi, Mobile Clinical Psychology Consultants. She has extensive experience as a researcher and practitioner supporting survivors in the mental health sector, with both adults and children, working in particular with acute and complex cases. Julie is passionate about improving service and support experiences for survivors, and her current mahi is focussed on enhancing access for Māori by providing a national mobile clinical psychology service. Julie has been a member of the National Standing Committee on Bicultural Issues for the New Zealand Psychological Society since 2006; and is currently one of two Bicultural Directors on the Executive of the Society.

Principle Project Supervisor: Kathryn McPhillips – Clinical Psychologist: Kathryn is Executive Director at HELP, an Auckland agency serving survivors of sexual violence and their families and friends.  She instigated this project as she is passionate about both good practice and collaborative working relationships in the sector so that we do the best we can for survivors and to end sexual violence.  Kathryn contributed several research papers to the Task Force for Action on Sexual Violence (2007-2009), and has been part of the development of good practice guidelines for restorative justice with sexual violence.  Kathryn is one of the founding members of Te Ohaakii a Hine – National Network Ending Sexual Violence Together and an executive committee member of the Tauiwi Caucus.  She is a founding and executive committee member of Project Restore.

Advisory Group: An Advisory Group for the project was established to provide expertise and advice, to assist in ensuring it is useful to and for mainstream crisis support services and survivors of sexual violence who may want to use such services. This group was also established to support the involvement in the research of members of those groups which are partners in parts of the research – young people, Māori, Pacific Peoples, men, Muslim, LGBTI + people living with disability, and Asian.

The following people were members of the project Advisory Group:

  • Andrea Black (Rape Crisis; Secondary Project Supervisor)
  • Anjum Rahman (Trustee, Shama Hamilton Ethnic Women’s Centre): “I have worked with and for ethnic minority communities in various volunteer roles for over a decade.  This project is especially important to ensure accessible services for survivors of sexual violence from these communities, as they are very often reluctant to disclose sexual violence or to seek assistance.”
  • Aych McArdle (previously of Rainbow Youth; LGBTI Human Rights Advocate):  “I’m really proud that the needs of our rainbow whānau have been brought to the table in this project and it has been my honour to help facilitate that voice being woven throughout the document. Our rainbow communities are as diverse as our disability communities and I have been able to bring some intersectional weaving magic into this mahi.”
  • Dr Christine Foley (Lead Clinician Pohutukawa SAATS Auckland. DSAC Board Member): “My aim was to represent the medical and forensic aspects of care for all those affected by Sexual Assault and ensure that medical and crisis support services are enabled to work together, to provide excellent services.”
  • Detective Senior Sergeant Darrell Harpur (Police)
  • Dawn Baxter (Youthline): “I wanted to be involved with this project as sexual violence affects many of our young people in Aotearoa and the first response can be detrimental to healing. I have brought a youth perspective to the project and have learnt a great deal from all the other disciplines.”
  • Ellie Lim (Auckland Women’s Centre):  “This project has been an excellent opportunity for the Rainbow community to collaborate constructively towards a piece of work which will benefit us.  We will benefit from how we are treated, framed and understood when disclosing.  For those who will read the Rainbow section of the guidelines, they will personally benefit from a greater understanding of the Rainbow Communities, especially aspects of safety and respect not just related to sexual abuse disclosures.  An unexpected gain from working on this project was the depth of personal learning.”
  • Ezekiel Robson (Disabled Person’s Assembly)
  • Hariata Riwhi (Rape Crisis)
  • Hera Pierce (Nga Kaitiaki Mauri, TOAH-NNEST)
  • Dr Jennifer Hauraki (Clinical Psychologist and Researcher, Asian representative)
  • Joy Te Wiata (Nga Kaitaiki Mauri, TOAH-NNEST): Joy is a member of the Paetakawaenga of TOAH-NNEST and she represents the Māori whare, Nga Kaitiaki Mauri of TOAH-NNEST, in this Project. Alongside her colleagues in NKM, Joy has been an advocate for the elimination for sexual violence at national and regional levels for many years; particularly promoting the development and resourcing of Kaupapa Māori services in the sexual violence sector in order to more effectively address the issue of sexual violence in Māori communities.  Joy represents NKM in this project to ensure the voices of Māori clinical practitioners and whanau are heard and enacted, in an endeavour to provide better access to appropriate healing pathways for Māori impacted by sexual violence in Aotearoa NZ.
  • Ken Clearwater (Manager, National Advocate, Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust): “I have been working with and supporting male victim/survivors of sexual abuse since 1996. I am passionate about ensuring male survivors of sexual abuse have an effective voice as victims.”
  • Louise Nicholas (Survivor Advocate, TOAH-NNEST)
  • Melanie Calversbert (previously Team Leader Social Work and Crisis Response, Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP Foundation; current role Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Advisor at the New Zealand Defence Force): “Having worked in the sexual violence sector for over 20 years, I’m very aware of gaps that exist within agencies to work well with people in many diverse communities. I support this project because it ensures that the sector will have people’s stories, information, research, and recommendations to better inform the work we do.”
  • Michael McCarthy (Injury Prevention Portfolio Manager, Violence, ACC)
  • Sarah Va’afusuaga McRobie (Registered Counsellor, Researcher and Supervisor, The University of Auckland’s Health and Counselling Centre): “I bought a passion to capture the essence of our Pasifika heart and soul and the practical awareness of how to work with our Pasifika survivors of sexual violence and their families with respect, love and care. In working together with a small group of Pasifika Counsellors, Psychotherapists and Family Therapists from diverse cultural backgrounds and professional affiliations, we were able to update the previous Good Practice Guidelines used by mainstream crisis support services.”
  • Wol (Wendy) Laird: (Violence Prevention Education Worker with SOS Kaipara/Ngā Whitiki Whānau Ahuru Mōwai ō Aotearoa – National Rape Crisis): “I wanted to be part of this advisory group because the time is right for these guidelines to get out into the field. Fabulous, caring and ethical people work in Sexual and Family Violence Crisis Support work and these guidelines will support and enhance the work of those people”

Community Researchers: The following researchers/practitioners were contracted to conduct community-based research, each representing a specific community, in the Inclusive Practice section of this project, with over-sight provided by the projects Lead researcher (Dr Julie Wharewera-Mika).

Community researchers for this project included: Joy Te Wiata and Russell Smith (Korowai Tumanako), Sarah McRobie (Pacific), David Mitchell (MSSAT), Sandra Dickson (LGBTI+), Fariya  Begum and Anjum Rahman (Shama), Ezekiel Robson (Salubrious), Dr Vivien Feng and Dr Jennifer Hauraki (Asian) 


  • Lotteries Grants: Initial funding for the current Guidelines was successfully sought form the Lotteries Commission via a Lotteries Community Research Grant. This funding enabled the investigation of current literature and research, and the inclusive practice guidelines projects for Māori, Pacific, Men, LGBTI+, Muslim and Disability, and printed dissemination of the final report.
  • ACC: As the project progressed it was decided, following sector feedback, that the report could be best disseminated via the development of a website and using other forms of media, including video interviews. In addition, including an inclusive practice project with the Asian community was seen as a priority. Therefore, additional funding was successfully sought from ACC to complete this phase of the Guidelines.