To: The Ministry of Social Development

Save Shakti Wellington Refuge

Save Shakti Wellington Refuge

We the undersigned demand the Ministry of Social Development adequately funds Shakti Wellington Refuge to support migrant and refugee women experiencing family violence in the greater Wellington region.

Last year, Shakti was contracted by Ministry of Social Development to conduct a needs analysis and the resulting evidence pointed to a need for specialist refuge services for migrant and refugee women needing intervention and support from family violence. Furthermore, Shakti Wellington has been able to practically evidence the need by servicing over 350 women in 2016, with over 200 referrals coming in from the police.

This year, funding for Shakti Wellington Refuge was categorically declined by the Ministry of Social Development despite this needs analysis. We see this as an ongoing issue of structural racism against migrant women preventing us from self-determining our own services and support our people. It is a denial of the right for Asian, Middle Eastern and African women to access culturally appropriate services in the Wellington region.

Shakti has been at the forefront of striving for equality and equity for migrant and refugee women in New Zealand, the refusal to consider this specialist need by the government is going to put more migrant women’s lives at risk.

Why is this important?

Shakti Wellington opened a refuge in 2014 after the murders of two migrant women in Wellington due to domestic violence - Sarwan Lata Singh and Mei Fan. We knew then, as much as we know now, that those women should have had access to refuge services that understood their cultural contexts. They had a right to access life-saving culturally appropriate support services.

We have been advocating and lobbying for government funding for the Wellington Shakti refuge for over 5 years, but there have been major barriers.

For Shakti, which has been at the forefront of striving for equality and equity for migrant and refugee women in New Zealand, the refusal to consider this specialist need by the government is totally unacceptable. We have hence begun the public campaign for funding to Save Shakti Wellington Refuge.

This is a quote from Wendy Vyas. Shakti’s National Advocacy Coordinator on her experience at a mainstream women’s refuge: “As an Indian this whole concept of “refuge” was very daunting for me. I was at no point explained what was going to happen but was told that I am safe. I did feel safe, but not understood. During this time my family got involved and they wanted me to reconcile. I did speak to the staff at the refuge and she informed me that I can always say no. She was right, however, I felt she had no understanding of anything I am speaking – my culture and Asian values.” This is an extract from a letter addressed to Brendan Boyle (CEO of MSD) and Anne Tolley (Minister of Social Development).

Migrant and refugee women deserve better. We deserve to be resourced adequately. We have a right to access culturally appropriate services.


Reasons for signing

  • Culturally-aware refuge services play a critical role in providing much-needed support to refugees. Shakti has a strong track-record in the communities it operates, and should be supported, even if it means cutting some other non-critical expenses.
  • Anyone who is in a place of danger due to domestic abuse should be allowed a service which is able to provide them with both safety and aid.
  • Shake provide a much needed service which deserves government funding. If we welcome migrant and refugee women into this country (as we should), we need to provide them with the adequate support, which Shakti is a part of.


2017-03-04 22:13:01 +1300

1,000 signatures reached

2017-03-02 10:55:04 +1300

500 signatures reached

2017-03-01 17:00:17 +1300

100 signatures reached

2017-03-01 15:56:49 +1300

50 signatures reached

2017-03-01 14:57:56 +1300

25 signatures reached

2017-03-01 14:49:41 +1300

10 signatures reached