Government launches new $6 million 'Love Better' family harm prevention campaign

The Government has allocated more than $6 million to a new family harm prevention campaign that asks young Kiwis to "own the feels". 

Priyanca Radhakrishnan, the Government's associate Minister for Social Development and Employment, on Wednesday launched 'Love Better', described as a world-leading family harm prevention campaign.

Love Better will initially support young New Zealanders through break-ups, attempting to develop positive attitudes to dealing with the hurt that comes with them. 

The idea is that by supporting young people through break-ups, "we can positively impact how they approach future relationships", the minister said.

"Over 1200 young Kiwis told us they need support to deal with early experiences of love and hurt, and break-ups were identified as a common challenge," Radhakrishnan said.

"We know that break-ups hurt. We want to support our young people to deal with the hurt and know that there is a way through without harming themselves or others."

Research by Kantar last year found 62 percent of young people have been through a breakup and 72 percent of them have experienced or perpetrated harmful impacts. Most young people (55 percent) are not confident or only somewhat confident they could end a relationship without harm.

However, the research found half of young people also see break-ups as opportunities for learning or change, a normal part of life, and can have the potential to result in good things. 

Radhakrishnan explained the Love Better campaign asks young people to "own the feels". It "features young people sharing real stories to help their peers who may be going through similar experiences".

"This is an authentic way to inspire others to build their own strength, self-worth, and resilience."

A video provided with the minister's statement uses "#ownthefeels" and says the campaign is a "community of the freshly broken-up helping the freshly broken-up to keep a little hurt from becoming a lotta hurt". 

It shows two young people speaking to the camera about deleting their exes on social media.

Priyanca Radhakrishnan.
Priyanca Radhakrishnan. Photo credit: Getty Images.

The campaign is part of the Government's strategy to eliminate family and sexual violence in New Zealand. The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) said the campaign intends to "promote safe, positive and equal relationships for young people" and has "been developed based on audience research and testing". 

"The concept resonated well with young people during testing, and the involvement of the Ministry and their commitment to a much broader 'love better' campaign was welcomed. 

"Positive sentiment was generally based on acknowledging that young people often don't have the experience or emotional maturity, to deal with the big feelings that occur during a breakup. 

"Young people expressed a desire to learn how to avoid causing unnecessary hurt or harm to themselves and to others - often expressed as a desire to 'not do something I might regret.'"

The focus on break-ups is the first phase of the campaign. MSD said future phases "will be based on our findings from the first phase, as we learn how young people are engaging across various social media channels". The approach hasn't been trialled anywhere else in the world.

Radhakrishnan said New Zealand needs innovative ideas to break the cycle of family and sexual violence here.

Marama Davidson, the Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence and Sexual Violence, welcomed the new campaign as a positive way of getting rangatahi to talk about the tough emotions of relationships and breakups.

She said 40 actions are underway as part of the Government's strategy to eliminate family and sexual violence launched in December 2021.

"We have cross-agency support and Ministers taking collective action to identify opportunities for minimising harm, improving the safety of responses and strengthening violence prevention and intervention.

"This campaign sits alongside work already underway to support young people with healthy boundaries and attitudes to relationships, including the refresh of the school curriculum."

Data released on Tuesday shows the total number of sexual violence offences recorded by the Ministry of Justice jumped to 6392 in 2022, up from 5791 in 2021 and 5072 in 2020. Family violence offences were at 183,657 in 2022, up from 178,102 in 2021, but down from 209,549 in 2020.

The campaign has been allocated $6.4 million over three years through previous funding announcements. 

Budget 2022 included $114.52 million over four years to strengthen collective action to prevent and respond to family violence and sexual violence. 

It's being supported by Youthline. Young people who need support can text lovebetter to 234, email or phone the main support line on 0800 376 633.