Background of the Miriam Centre
The Miriam Centre Child Abuse Research and Treatment Trust is a not for-profit community-based Charitable Trust established in 1988 in recognition of the extent of intergenerational domestic violence, abuse and neglect of children and young people throughout Northland and of the importance of identifying the underlying reasons in order to design and implement safe, effective (a) risk investigation and immediate child protection procedures (b) intervention strategies able to facilitate long term change.
We work intensively with all aspects of a child’s life: immediate and extended family, school and community. The purpose is immediate protection and also long term change.
In our 29 years we have worked with over 16,000 individuals and their family whanau, as well as many schools and communities.
Before the advent of the CYPS evidential service we provided diagnostic and evidential interviewing services to the police in cases of suspected child abuse. We have one of the longest standing programmes for sex offenders in the country.
We have full Agency approval (CYF) and hold government and nongovernmental contracts to provide services.
We are a multi-disciplinary, bi-cultural agency. Our 14 staff includes therapists, community and social workers, and crisis counsellors. Seven are Maori and seven are Pakeha. Of the 7 current Trustees, six are Maori and one is Pakeha. This ratio of Maori to Pakeha is a reflection of our client population throughout our 29 years.
The protection and healing of children, young people and families through the empowerment of individuals, families and their relevant communities to identify, to face and to address the presenting problems as well as underlying issues or patterns sustaining or perpetuating the situation, (trauma, violence and abuse), at the source of the problem. This enables new and positive directions for the non-violent compassionate nurture of their own.
The Miriam Centre has always worked from the understanding that, when addressing what are effectively intergenerational issues of abuse and violence, (it is essential if the intervention is to be effective in the long-term) to work where at all possible with not only the child or adult individual but also their wider family and relevant community system to address the problem whether the client victim or perpetrator.
Our clinical work shows repeatedly that within the intergenerational cycle every person has their “story” and pain that constrains them and perpetuates the situation. If one can empower the individual and the family as well as the relevant community to identify, face and address these issues then permanent change can happen.
Therefore, our intervention encompasses both the immediate presenting problem of child protection and behavioural change as well as intensive work with immediate and extended family members to address the underlying sustaining issues through:
1) Individual counselling (children and adults) for personal issues of healing.
2) social work, advocacy support;
3) family therapy;
4) group work (personal development/attitudinal change for children and adults);
5) community work; facilitation of discussion and change.
In 2003 we began to coordinate and to analyse the collective intergenerational clinical data gathered with each client since the Miriam Centre’s inception 1st May 1988.
This continuing work confirms our clinical experience of an intergenerational pattern behind the presenting childhood violence.
Our analysis of the data to date shows remarkably similar intergenerational family profile. A circular history of domestic and inter-personal violence, physical and sexual abuse, drug and alcohol misuse, frequently associated down stream effects historical undermining of economic resources, low paid or lack of employment.
Not uncommonly there has been a breakdown of stable family-of-origin in the current parental generation (child’s birth parents). The result is a lack of the essential stable nurture. A poverty of compassionate emotional nurture. Frequently a loss of hope and loss of positive self.
We see a people in their own personal psychological survival mode, people therefore with little ability to nurture others.