Te Whare Tāwharau is the first centre of its kind in Aotearoa/New Zealand and was created to provide support and prevention services to our campus community. Our unique structure at Te Whare Tāwharau blends academic research and expertise with best practice and offers support and prevention services for those impacted by sexual violence.
To create a Sexual Violence Support and Prevention Centre that would provide support, advocacy, education and research related to sexual violence on campus. Te Whare Tāwharau is one unified space that acts as a hub for the provision of a range of services to support students and staff around issues of sexual violence, providing education and prevention programmes and ensuring that Otago remains at the cutting edge of addressing sexual violence through researching and evaluating the programmes. The Centre works in collaboration with other relevant services on campus including Student Health, Disability Information and Support, University Volunteering and the Proctor’s office.
The development of Te Whare Tāwharau took place over a two year period involving numerous staff and students working together to support the University of Otago community to eliminate sexual violence. Administratively the process began when two separate committees were convened. The Sexual Safety Working Group was established as part of the Healthy University Advisory Group (HUAG). The mandate of this working group was to develop suggestions for a response to sexual violence on campus including provision of support and prevention services.
At the same time, the Sexual Harm and Assault Response and Evaluation was convened by the Vice Chancellor. The committee was tasked with the development of a sexual misconduct policy. A delegation from the SHARE committee traveled to several campuses in the United States to see possible responses to the problem of sexual violence. On 15 December 2016 SHARE hosting a University-wide hui to better understand the needs and perspectives of the campus community. The SHARE committee continues to work on the development of a sexual misconduct policy.
In 2017, work on the structure of support and prevention services continued with the involvement of academic and professional staff and students. At the end of 2017 University Council approved the use of funding through the Student Services Fee to fund the establishment of Te Whare Tāwharau. The doors officially opened on 1 May 2018.