Specialist defends ACC’s Mates and Dates programme

ACC has announced an $18.4 million investment to roll out its Mates and Dates programme, which has been running since 2014, across New Zealand secondary schools. The announcement of further investment has sparked criticism about why the programme is facilitated by outside providers and not by teachers.

Sexual Abuse Prevention Network (SAPN) is the Wellington, Porirua and Kāpiti provider of the programme and says that some commentary has been misleading.

SAPN General Manager, Fiona McNamara says, “The programme facilitators are from specialist sexual violence services who have been delivering healthy relationships programmes for a number of years.

“The organisations that deliver the programme are part of the wider school community and provide support and expertise to the school, beyond the lessons themselves. This includes following up on disclosures of harm from students and advising schools on how to manage these situations when they arise.

“While health teachers play an important role in supporting the programme, there’s a strong body of evidence that recommends that this education is undertaken by specialist educators, external to the school. It is also what current New Zealand secondary school students have asked for.”