The Government’s most important policy – family violence

The National led Government is often criticised for doing or changing little of significance, for being a dabbler that at best makes incremental changes. That may in general be fair comment.

But yesterday they announced what I think is the most significant policy of their three terms and of critical importance for New Zealand.

John Key has been at the forefront of the announcement.


Family violence is widespread and insidious. It has many and often severe repercussions. It not only adversely affects relationships, families and children, it also impacts on health, education, crime and imprisonment and mental well being.

If family violence can be significantly reduced and the effects of violence better handled this could have a huge effect on individuals, families, communities and New Zealand society as a whole.

National’s media release on this (from Justice Minister Amy Adams and Social Development Minister Anne Tolley):

Early and effective intervention at heart of family violence changes

Sweeping reforms to our laws will build a better system for combatting abuse and will reduce harm, says Justice Minister Amy Adams and Social Development Minister Anne Tolley.

The Government is proposing a broad overhaul of changes to family violence legislation, stemming from the comprehensive review of the 20-year old Domestic Violence Act.

“New Zealand’s rate of family violence is horrendous. It has a devastating impact on individuals and communities, and a profound impact that can span generations and lifetimes,” Ms Adams says.

“Our suite of changes are directed to earlier and more effective interventions. We are focused on better ways to keep victims safe and changing perpetrator behaviour to stop abuse and re-abuse.

“This is about redesigning the way the entire system prevents and responds to family violence. The reforms are an important part of building a new way of dealing with family violence.

“For many, family violence is an ingrained, intergenerational pattern of behaviour. There are no easy fixes. Our reforms make extensive changes across the Domestic Violence Act, Care of Children Act, Sentencing Act, Bail Act, Crimes Act, Criminal Procedure Act and the Evidence Act.”

Changes include:

  • getting help to those in need without them having to go to court
  • ensuring all family violence is clearly identified and risk information is properly shared
  • putting the safety of victims at the heart of bail decisions
  • creating three new offences of strangulation, coercion to marry and assault on a family member
  • making it easier to apply for a Protection Orders, allowing others to apply on a victim’s behalf, and better providing for the rights of children under Protection Orders
  • providing for supervised handovers and aligning Care of Children orders to the family violence regime
  • making evidence gathering in family violence cases easier for Police and less traumatic for victims
  • wider range of programmes able to be ordered when Protection Order imposed
  • making offending while on a Protection Order a specific aggravating factor in sentencing
  • enabling the setting of codes of practice across the sector.

“These changes are the beginning of a new integrated system but on their own have the potential to significantly reduce family violence. Changes to protection orders and the new offences alone are expected to prevent about 2300 violent incidents each year,” Ms Adams says.

The package makes changes to both civil and criminal laws, and provides system level changes to support new ways of working. It will cost $132 million over four years.

“Legislation is part of but not the whole change required. These legislative reforms are designed to support and drive the change underpinning the wider work programme overseen by the Ministerial Group on Family and Sexual Violence. The work is about comprehensive and coordinated system change with a focus on early intervention and prevention,” says Mrs Tolley.

“Social agencies and NGOs I’ve been speaking with are desperate for a system-wide change so we can make a real shift in the rate of family violence.”

“Laws alone cannot solve New Zealand’s horrific rate of family violence. But they are a cornerstone element in how we respond to confronting family violence. It sets up the system, holds perpetrators to account, and puts a stake in the ground,” Ms Adams says.

The full pack of reforms are set out in the Cabinet papers and are available at

This is getting cross party support, which is a very positive sign. This is too important to get bogged down by partisan politics.

Violence is not just a male versus female problem. It can also be female versus versus male, and adult versus child.

It’s good to see the Prime Minister John Key strongly promoting this, but it is perhaps not a coincidence that both Ministers driving this, Adams and Tolley, are women.

If the Government and all parties in Parliament can make a real difference on reducing family violence they will leave an admirable legacy for this term.



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  1. The ‘homeless’ didn’t work for the left so now the subject is family violence…
    Great times we live in

  2. Corky

     /  14th September 2016

    The cart before the horse…..

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  14th September 2016

    I know I’m being lazy but I have a busy few days ahead. Has anyone checked out what the objective measures of success and consequent targets are?

    • @ Alan – It does say, “Changes to protection orders and the new offences alone are expected to prevent about 2300 violent incidents each year,” Ms Adams says. There’s a long list of ‘The Changes’ too, some surely self-explanatory …?

      How often are we told “objective measures of success and consequent targets” in reports about proposed law changes?

      @ Corky – “the cart” of ….. what? …. before “the horse” of ….. what?

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  14th September 2016

        Certainly not often or rigorously enough, PZ. We could do with a rule that if a law doesn’t work it is automatically scrapped unless re-approved by Parliamentary vote.

      • Corky

         /  14th September 2016

        The cart of law changes, before the horse of limited resources. Even given the 66 new dedicated officers( if I remember correctly)

        Extrapolate the number of people who will be processed under these new laws, and you just know corners will be cut as things are done on the fly. Hate to be a booking officer on a Friday or Saturday. And dare I say- the All Blacks can’t afford to lose.

  4. Complex problem to solve and its not all one way traffic. But the power to take genuinely violent people away from vulnerable children is a good one, as long as good checks and balances are in place. Manipulative people and their sly lawyers will seize opportunities to have others banged up if they get a chance – its a common tactic in the Family Court to accuse someone to maintain control of children and to sue the process to punish someone who wants away form a partner but still loves and wants access to their children.

    But you know human nature being what it is will this solve the issue – probably not.

    How many woman go back to, or protect their violent partners from prosecution, because “Love”

    How many woman are violent and manipulative but escape legal consequences because its perceived as a Male problem? [And the PM in his statement talked about blokes being the problem and then as a small caveat slipped in a reference to woman who indulge in violence and abuse]

    Hope it achieve the objectives without destroying people in the process through the inevitable cock ups, lies and manipulation that surround sorting out relationship breakdowns and volatile family living situations.

    • Fair comment dave1924, but I think it needs tempering …

      – How many violent men also psychologically abuse, torture and manipulate women into feeling totally dependent upon them, “taking them back” or giving them another chance? Into believing it is “Love”? As if these men un-or-subconsciously know how to create Battered Woman Syndrome? And know how to locate and attract appropriate victims. [Women must take responsibility for a strange kind of ‘readiness’ to be victims in SOME cases too, of course]

      – To what extent is the experience of a woman’s pregnancy taken into account? Nine months of carrying the man’s child. I believe this creates an incredibly strong bond, sometimes even with the most abusive and neglectful man, due to physiological, psychological and emotional identification of the baby with him and perhaps also the developing motherhood instinct applied to him? This may exist more as the woman’s [unrealistic] hope than anything else but it is nonetheless real to her …

      – And yes, women can be manipulative and violent too … but I don’t know statistically what the proportions of male and female perpetrators are … It seems to depend on the study …

      “We need to investigate and deal with the problem within the relationships and whānau where the abuse occurs. All women and all men need to learn ways to deal with conflict without resorting to violence or abuse.”

      While nature undoubtedly plays a role, IMHO the problem sheets back to parenting … but we never consider this a suitable subject for our education system …

      I wonder what the world would be like if our ‘factory model’ education system had a pro-active ‘healing’ component … ??? If its reason d’etre wasn’t just to turn out qualified workers but to turn out self-improved people …?

      • Iceberg

         /  14th September 2016

        “I wonder what the world would be like if our ‘factory model’ education system had a pro-active ‘healing’ component”

        Try and get that past your mates at the teachers unions.

        Maybe you could get children to write notes to the Minister of Education asking for “healing” classes.

      • PnZ – I have no doubts there are some sick and nasty manipulators out there in the male population. I was just pointing put its a two side situation, but what we see in the media general points the bone one way.

        For me women need to have the will to walk and take the kids. And their families need to back them up and support them. And if necessary families should intervene and take their daughter, aunt, niece out of the situation and protect her.

        Part of the problem is we have no decent stats on who starts the problems who throws the first punch, push, kick etc – what we do know that if an average man hits the average woman the result is a lot of damage due to the different muscle mass and pure size differential. And a lot of the debate focuses on OUTCOMES not where the causative factors arise from. And then the blame is unfairly, in my view and experience, heaped on men as the only problem makers.

        The answer is self control, empathy and learning to let it go and walk away. No point staying an escalating situation. As I always say to mates – just walk away. A woman throwing verbal barbs or getting physical with you. Just walk away its a lose lose situation.

        As for schools being the lead, I understand the point you make. Maybe its the answer. I don’t know hence why I say its a tricky problem.

        • Being ridiculously utopian dave, as though to invite more mockery from the Ice-ikky, I guess I’m imagining a relatively small village where everyone is either related or at least recognises their inter-dependence on a fairly personal level of relationship with their extended families, neighbours, acquaintances and friends …

          In my idyllic primitive society or “folk culture”, the whole community acts in some ways as an educator and moderator of behaviour … perhaps especially parenting?

          To exaggerate, nowadays there is no-one and no community or group consciousness to call parents to account, leastwise not until the damage has been done and things become ‘legal’ or ‘criminal’? We insensibly call this “freedom” …

          It’s all part of Western cultures’ atomisation of things …

          I know its a long bow to draw, but I wonder if some form of modified school mightn’t be the best ‘institution’ to take up this role? A ‘flexible institution’ or ‘plastitution’ [new word # 65] made whole and organic again by its full integration with its own community …

          Such a truly tomorrows’ school might be barely recognisable compared to the “classrooms and playgroud” of today? For one thing, many of the students might be the pupils’ parents teaching-and-learning right alongside them …?

          • Utopian – place ruled by tyrants enforcing their will and vision on everyone else. you have conjured the modern socialists vision of fairness and equity… very Animal Farm PnZ, very Animal Farm

            • No dave, we’re living Animal Farm ‘Right’ now, with all human endeavour reduced to the “animal” by false individualism, Darwinian competition and “greed is good” neoliberalism …

              Thanks for calling me a modern socialist though … You are nearly correct. I’m a modern social realist …

            • When you find your Neoliberal NZ – you bring it to our attention. it doesn’t exist..

              Frankly the redistribution and social welfare blanket in NZ is the antithesis of neoliberal politics. But you keep talking up the tragedy of NZ, a socialist paradise at the edge of the world – a country millions would die to try and live in while you whine its not fair and I should have everything for no effort.

              And nice siddle away from the little smear in your last comment PnZ – no withdraw no I didn’t mean to associate you with a scumbag. Shows you truly a real left smear and walk away. Found any chinese sound names you don’t like lately PnZ?? Because all you lefties think the same way eh?

            • @ dave1924 –

              para # 1 : You keep saying it doesn’t exist … yet we live in the aftermath of globalisation and financialisation; Rogernomics and Ruthanasia … We live upon their ethical wasteland … our future generations condemned to their profane, carnal, diabolic, materialist ideology …

              para # 2 : You’ve nearly lost me here because I didn’t say any of those things. I didn’t “talk up the tragedy of NZ” or “whine I should have everything for no effort” … but feel free to quote me as proof? I’ve said before I want to improve things for everyone progressing from where we are now …

              para # 3 : And …. you’ve lost me completely! The only Chinese sounding name I’ve encountered lately belongs to NZ born Mayor of Gisborne Meng Fong … accused by some KFL sounding farmer of attempting to buy votes by putting $20 down on the bar table Fong was drinking at with his friends …

              Nope … but I honestly do get the impression all you Righties think the same way … truly I do …

  5. artcroft

     /  14th September 2016

    “But yesterday they announced what I think is the most significant policy of their three terms and of critical importance for New Zealand.”

    I’m glad to hear this because I seen less and less reason to support National into a fourth term recently.

  6. I actually wrote to the Prime Minister when I was alerted to the policy announcement. I made to points about the initial notice that I received. The first point I made was the elephant in the room that no one wanted to talk about is the difference in NZ Culture to Pacific Island culture where in Polynesia male dominance in the household is a norm and women are expected to sit in the background. On the Maneaba (Marae) the protocol is the women are seen but not heard. When they come to New Zealand there is a pressure on women to stand up for themselves, combine that change and the use of drugs and alcohol which are often forbidden on some islands and you have all of the elements for violence. Also some women for the first time are exposed to availability of drugs and alcohol and they can’t handle it and that is a further problem that needs to be addressed. Control freaks are both sides of the gender divide (gendet square if you like) so this not a problem unique to Polynesians. The propensity to violence is likely to change as the new generations come through the educational system. I have observed this problem at work in the Islands of Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia and it is a difficult problem to handle. What seems to work is drawing the line in the sand as to what is acceptable and what is not. We then need to ensure the people who cross the line are identified and the true nature of the problem is identified. There is a need for trained medical and social experts to assist in behavioural change and a Judiciary that accepts where the line is and if there is real violence involved then criminal sanctions must be available. But the main thing is to identify the causes of the violence and require thos who need it to undergo treatment. There is a problem with youthful bullies who need immediate action by the community to nip it in the bud. There also needs for a change in the attitude of our communities who don’t want to get involved in negative behaviour, individual rights are one thing but we all need to accept that the community do have a right and a legitimate reason to intercede to prevent negative behaviour as it is our taxes that have to be used to police and treat victim and aggressor.
    This problem will not go away unless there is a seasonal change in the communities actions to oppose it.

  7. Two points. Sorry.

  8. Bill

     /  14th September 2016

    Key’s had his lipstick out again, same shitty ambo, same shitty cliff.

    • patupaiarehe

       /  14th September 2016

      Yes, exactly Bill. Rather than dealing with the cause of the problem, they talk of dealing with the result. Until the root causes of violence are addressed, nothing will change.
      Raising tax on an addictive substance (tobacco) allegedly benefits society. Yet violent robberies are increasing, and they don’t go for the till anymore, as there are thousands of dollars more in the white cabinet behind the counter…..
      The average family is lucky to get an annual pay increase in line with inflation, yet the price of tobacco goes up by over 10% a year…

    • Bill

       /  14th September 2016

      Sorry, I’ve never seen a law that saves a dead baby,mother,farther,sister,or brother.
      Like I’ve never seen a law, that just makes people be nice to each other.

      To have laws in place to protect victims is a given and a Moral obligation.
      The real question what are we going to about it, the problem.

  9. Bill

     /  14th September 2016

    It’s like you say patupaiarehe and make no mistake rich dudes smash the wife and kids too. But life is shit for so many in the rock-star economy, high rent low pay, choosing power over food. It’s like an adrenal overload out there, families at the brink every day, year in year out.

    • @ Bill – “adrenal overload out there, families at the brink every day”

      And a system that seems designed specifically to keep it that way …?

      • Bill

         /  15th September 2016

        @ PartisanZ, you said it and I don’t see any bullet points address it,Gee hasn’t the ministry of social development lived up to its title. Maybe our economy will act as birth control and save future generations.

        • Yep, we’ll be fine if no-one has any children … That’s the answer …

          Just like we’ll be fine if no-one has any “disruptive” political ideas, if no-one rocks the boat …. provided ‘social development’ doesn’t mirror the general refrain of personal development …

  10. Gezza

     /  15th September 2016

    No I don’t think we’ll be fine if no one has any children. We’ll all end up having no one to ask “you call that music???”

    • Morning Gezza, heard the “news”? Bayer will buy out Monsanto for $66 billion … and, against all the odds, 3 people are being prosecuted for immigration scams after our “authorities” stood by and watched them do it for NINE YEARS …

      Geeez, who would have thought …?

      Just donning my SJW armour in expectation of the daily onslaughts from Iceberg, Corky and Alan ….

      How are you?


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