What works for Pasifika audiences

Successful activities prioritise confidentiality, involve family and community, and consider the different Pacific nations' cultures.

Why Pasifika are audiences unique

Currently, few sexual violence prevention and response services specifically target Pacific communities, and there is limited knowledge of Pacific values, cultures, and languages among mainstream service providers.

Sexual violence and low disclosure rates are serious issues within Pacific communities in New Zealand because of social and cultural factors like:

  • over-representation among low socio-economic status households
  • stress related to migration, like low English literacy
  • a cultural emphasis on obeying elders and maintaining the reputation of the family.

What works for Pasifika audiences

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    Consider culture

  • Why consider culture

    Research highlights the importance of showing respect for the values and beliefs of cultural groups.

    How to consider Pacific culture

    For many Pacific people spirituality, family, and confidentiality are strong values. In Pacific cultures, elders should be obeyed and respected, and sexuality is a tapu subject that parents might not feel comfortable speaking about with children.

    • Focus on discussing healthy relationships rather than blame.
    • Recognise when cultural values come into conflict, eg when individuals would prefer that information not be disclosed to family members.
    • Incorporate elements of Pacific values, spirituality, and culture, eg through using prayer and food in gatherings, and using Pacific concepts and terms in conceptual frameworks.
    • Consider setting aside resources for training programme staff on understanding the cultural values and practices of Pacific groups you work with.
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    Recognise differences between Pacific peoples

  • Why recognise differences between Pacific peoples

    Pacific people are diverse — the Pasifika culture contains many different nationalities, languages, ages, beliefs and gender groups.

    Since different communities or demographics have different views and experiences of sexual violence, activities may be more effective if they target specific groups.

    How to recognise differences between Pacific peoples

    • Target specific sub-groups of Pacific people, to allow participants to speak comfortably among peers.
    • Produce resources and programme materials in multiple Pacific languages.
    • Use practitioners who speak the same languages as the audience.
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    Ensure confidentiality

  • Why ensure confidentiality

    In many Pacific cultures:

    • family reputation is paramount
    • matters related to sexuality, eg non-heterosexual sexual preferences or sexual assault, are considered private family matters that should not be spoken about in public.

    Researchers have suggested that this contributes to low disclosure rates among Pacific people, as disclosure of assault could bring shame to individuals or to the entire family.

    How to ensure confidentiality

    • Take the time to ensure issues related to confidentiality are explained thoroughly.
    • Be very specific about who the information will and will not be shared with without the person’s consent.
    • The limits of confidentiality should be discussed and checked for understanding.
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    Involve family and community

  • Why involve family and community

    Family is strongly valued within many Pacific communities, meaning sexual violence may be treated as a family matter. Involving families and key community figures helps to encourage open discussion and raise awareness.

    How to involve family and community

    • Involve key Pasifika community figures, eg leaders, church ministers, and providers.
    • Make use of Pacific community forums such as churches and radio stations.
    • Involve family members in activities where possible — this may involve visiting clients' homes.
    • Build partnerships between mainstream and existing Pacific providers to build knowledge, engage with Pacific communities and share knowledge.


Conceptual framework for addressing family violence in Pacific communities — Ministry of Social Development (2012)