Fāmili Vā Lelei building Safe and Resilient Families
Through its unique strengths-based interventions and faith-inspired principles, SIAOLA’s Fāmili Vā Lelei Fāmili Vā Lelei programme is empowering families to build stronger, safer, and more resilient homes.
Caption: Vahefonua Tonga ‘o Aotearoa, Siaola: Fāmili Vā Lelei Cohort 22 graduation ceremony - Counties Manukau Police Station, 14/04/2023. 'Oku 'asi 'i he 'ata ni 'a e Faifekau Sea, Kalolo Fihaki; Faifekau Loloma Fale, Business Development Manager Sesimani Ahio, programme leader Siosiana Taumoepeau Tuifua, Senior Sergeant Tui Taufoou Tui N Kathleen-Tuai Taufoou mei he Siaola mo e ngaahi fāmili na'e kau ki he polokalama Fāmili Vā Lelei 2023. Ko e ongo facilitator foki 'o e polokalama manakoa ni ko Rev Loloma Fale Nafetalai Ngaluafe mo Tokilupe Mahe Niko Lupe Mahe.
At the heart of the SIAOLA Fāmili Vā Lelei programme lies a powerful three-day retreat where families embark on a transformative journey together. Guided by a multidisciplinary team of practitioners, clinicians, social workers, and professionals, families receive expert guidance and support. The programme's evidence-based modules focus on effective communication, strengthening familial bonds, and redefining roles and responsibilities within the family unit.
By embracing the Tongan service delivery framework known as 'Fofola e Fala,' the SIAOLA Fāmili Vā Lelei programme recognises that lasting change can only occur when the entire family unit is supported and empowered. This comprehensive and inclusive approach sets the programme apart from traditional interventions which often focus solely on victims or perpetrators. By engaging the entire family, SIAOLA creates an environment where families can learn and grow together.
The impact of the SIAOLA Fāmili Vā Lelei programme extends well beyond the retreat experience. Families are equipped with practical tools and strategies to navigate challenges and foster positive change. The programme's commitment to ongoing support ensures families have access to additional resources tailored to their specific needs. From financial wellbeing services to educational support for children, SIAOLA fosters holistic growth and stability within families.
“We’ve kept in contact with them over the years and offered them other services,” says Kathleen Tuai-Ta’ufo’ou,Chief Executive of Vahefonua Tonga Methodist Mission Charitable Trust. (pictured left front)
“Such as our financial wellbeing service. We found that over 95% of our families' conflicts began with financial issues.”
Participants of the SIAOLA Fāmili Vā Lelei programme have witnessed remarkable transformations within their homes. Improved communication, enhanced quality time, and a deeper understanding of familial bonds have become the cornerstones of their family dynamics. By nurturing lasting relationships and providing a safe space for families to learn and grow, SIAOLA instils hope and empowers families to create strong, safe, and loving homes.
Kathleen says it’s about providing a holistic programme for the whole family and families are responding well to the programme.
“The families have been very grateful for the support that we’ve given them. What we eliminate is the stigma attached to family violence programmes as previously nobody wanted to take one because they felt that they had done something [negative].”
In a society where the stigma surrounding family violence programmes often discourages participation, the SIAOLA Fāmili Vā Lelei programme is breaking down barriers. By promoting a strengths-based and faith-inspired approach, the programme empowers Pacific families to overcome challenges and build brighter futures. Through its dedication to reducing family violence and promoting family wellbeing, SIAOLA is paving the way for stronger, healthier, and more connected families in Pacific communities.
“There’s a stigma that’s given by society, by the government, by anyone that is not Pacific, that all Pacific people are violent,” says Kathleen, “So for them to even take part in the programme, just taking that first step is huge.”
“Once they come into the programme, they realise that we’re really there for their benefit and that the whole thing works together, the social workers, the counsellors, the teachers, the police, we all work together to give them a safe space to learn about a better way of communicating with one another and giving them the tools to really build the ofa or the love for each other.”
SIAOLA Fāmili Vā Lelei programme exemplifies the power of a strengths-based and faith-inspired approach to reducing family violence and promoting family wellbeing. By empowering Pacific families to create safe and resilient homes, SIAOLA is fostering positive change that reverberates through generations. With ongoing support and a commitment to holistic growth, this transformative programme is shaping the future of Pacific communities, one family at a time.
The programme began in 2016 when SIAOLA worked together with Pasefika Proud to develop a programme that meets the needs of our communities around family violence prevention. Today it's a little more focused on the Tongan spaces and models that respond to the needs of our families dealing with conflict in the home. SIAOLA acknowledge and are grateful for the ongoing relationship and support of Pasefika Proud.
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The following principles support and guide our work:
Community led – supporting communities to identify their own needs, and design and lead their own solutions. Community leadership happens at all levels – including in homes, churches and sport and cultural settings. Pasefika Proud taps into and nurtures those community leaders, influencers and role models who are able to inspire and support positive change.
Strengths based – drawing on Pacific cultural values to strengthen communities, build resilience and keep Pacific peoples safe. Focusing on assets and dispelling the myth that family violence is part of our various Pacific cultures. This helps to open doors that would otherwise be closed to conversations about family violence.
‘Ethnic-specific for Pacific’ – working intentionally in an ethnic-specific way to support the development of community-owned, culturally appropriate solutions. Experience and evidence to date suggest that a ‘one size fits all’ approach is not as effective as one that derives from unique cultural frameworks and strengths.
Diversity / Inclusion – recognising that Pacific peoples in New Zealand are incredibly diverse in terms of culture, ethnicity, migration experience, age, gender, location and many other factors. Acknowledging and understanding our diversity helps us to be more inclusive.
Evidence based – building expertise and an evidence base on what supports positive change / transformation that prevents violence within Pacific families and communities.
Education / Skills focused – supporting knowledge and skills acquisition that builds confidence and capability within Pacific families, communities and services.
Sustainability – acknowledging the complexities and intergenerational impacts of family violence, and focusing on realistic solutions that help to embed and sustain social change at the community level.
CLICK HERE to read Pasefika Proud Pathways for Change