Ranjna Patel with the ‘Community Hero Award’
When Ranjna Patel was declared ‘Community Hero’ at the Women of Influence Awards on November 17, 2020 in Wellington, many of us were not surprised, for, she not only deserved the accolade but believed that it should have come sooner.
It was in fact, after many years of reaching the finals that she got to the top.
The gathering saw a significant number of people rewarded for their work in various fields but it is no exaggeration that Ranjna was a jewel in the Crown.
Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities Minister Priyanca Radhakrishnan on the role of women in the society
Domestic Violence Campaigner
The citation read that the honour was being conferred on a person who is a domestic violence campaigner working with the Police to identify at-risk men and help them change their behaviour.
The Women of Influence Awards celebrate New Zealand women who are helping the next generation positively shape their future.
“Ranjna has long been a trailblazer in promoting equality in the high needs community. Starting in 1977 in Otara where children were seen by doctors for free, adults for a mere $10 and the clinic was open for walk-ins on either side of the traditional 9-5 opening hours. Today, she champions this philosophy as the Director of Tamaki Healthcare (the largest primary healthcare group in the country) with a ‘whole social system’ approach to meeting patient needs with 45 clinics with over 250,000 registered patients,” the Citation read.
I am perhaps among the few who have been with Ranjna work to reduce family violence, and more important, violent and erring men reformed and returned to their families.
Here is the difference: families deserve to be united and not broken. Offending men should be made to bring forth their human side and belong to their families- not break them.
Ranjna Patel with Dr Heidi le Sueur, Academic Director, Massey University, Auckland
It was in the autumn of 2014 that Superintendent John Tims, then District Commander of Counties Manukau District Police who challenged us, members of the South Asian Advisory Board to find a solution to the growing menace of family harm in the community.
Encouraged by his promise to help, we established Gandhi Nivas, with Ranjna as the Chairman.
Gandhi Nivas is a domestic violence intervention and prevention service with 60% non-recidivism in the participating men, as found by a five-year Massey Evaluation released by our Advisory Board.
We partner with the Police and Sahaayta Counselling and Social Support. The Programme provides early intervention and prevention services for New Zealand men identified at risk of committing harm in the family home and supports them to change their behaviour.
Six years later, we are gratified by the success of the Project but we want to do more. We want to eliminate the offence in our men and make them good husbands, fathers, brothers and people.
A social menace
“We identified domestic violence as a serious problem and absence of prospering counselling services or help to anyone, especially men, who are wanting to change or get help, became apparent. We needed a home, social workers and/or counsellor and a 24-hour service (as most incidents happen at night). Always up for a challenge, we looked at the data more carefully, with the guidance of Inspector Rakesh Naidoo, Sergeant Gurpreet Arora (South Asian Liaison Officer at Counties Manukau Police), Inspector Sharon Price and my fellow-board members Venkat Raman and Ibrar Sheik,” Ranjana said.
Ranjna Patel with Mark Richardson and Amanda Gilles at the AM Show on Nov 18, 2020
As well as Gandhi Nivas, Ranjna is involved in a many other activities outside her day job as a Director of Tamaki Health.
She is a Trustee of the Papatoetoe (South Auckland) based Shree Swaminarayan Temple (ISSO), which provides religious and community services to a growing number of devotees and visitors. The Temple also provides pastoral care for new migrants and international students.
This has proved to be invaluable during Covid-19 pandemic, during which Ranjina supervised the worked to distribute more 2000 food parcels to communities, and live-streamed prayers and services throughout the day.
Ranjna also works closely with South Auckland schools, Churches and communities to understand their needs and provide them with useful information and access.
Ranjna was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2017 and received a Queen’s Service Medal in 2009. Her other social and community commitments include the Police Commissioner’s Ethnic Focus Forum, the Mental Health Foundation and Diversity Works.
The above story has been sponsored by