Last night at the annual Gala Dinner, the much anticipated New Zealander of the Year Awards were announced - and we’re proud to share that our Co-Founder and Director, Ranjna Patel, won the highly coveted Trade Me New Zealand Innovator of the Year Award - Te Pou Whakairo o te Tau.
The award recognises a person or group who, in the spirit of Kiwi inventiveness and resourcefulness, have created a better New Zealand. In Ranjna’s case, this is an acknowledgement of her innovative thinking that continues to make a significant impact in the community, specifically for developing residential care and counselling for men identified at risk of committing harm in the family home.
The innovative approach that has reduced domestic violence reoffending by 60%
When Police in Auckland raised concerns around the increase in family violence in the South Asian community in 2013, they asked Ranjna for her expert advice.
After undertaking extensive research, Ranjna proposed a solution that went against the status quo approach to family violence (which is to remove women and children from a violent situation) and instead asked police to remove the perpetrator and bring him to emergency accommodation for counselling and behavioural therapy (while also providing wraparound support to the whānau at home).
In 2014 Ranjna established the first Gandhi Nivas home for perpetrators for rehabilitation in Otahuhu, and there are now three permanent Gandhi Nivas homes in Auckland, all staffed 24/7 by psychologists.
In her acceptance speech, Ranjna mentioned that she feels the approach was one of common sense:
“I don’t think of it as an innovation... [the approach] just seemed like common sense. When the police say the problem and the counsellors say the solution, it was just a matter of putting it together - and why has no one thought of it? That men need help without getting a criminal record, and it being free, if they could just get counselling service without it being in the system.”
In July 2020, Massey University released the findings of a long-term study into Gandhi Nivas, revealing that it reduced domestic violence reoffending by 60%.
Ranjna credits this success to unwavering support and the inherent principles that Tamaki Health was built upon:
“It’s amazing the support that we do get and it’s from basic principals. We started a business in Otara in ‘77, and we just saw what the community needed. My husband said “9—12 and 3—5 is not going to work for our population”, and so we opened longer hours and reduced fees, with access being the main priority.
[It’s the] same principles with Gandhi Nivas – access. If we can just provide more access. If we, as a society, can be more proactive than reactive to problems I think we would go very far”.
We’re incredibly proud of the work that Ranjna and our team continue to do within the community, and the TradeMe Innovator of the Year Award is well-deserved. Congratulations, Ranjna!