Overhaul of family violence laws

Yesterday the Government introduced the Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill, which aims at overhauling the Domestic Violence Act, amend six Acts and make consequential changes to over thirty pieces of law.

Press release from Minister of Justice Amy Adams:


Family violence laws introduced to Parliament

Legislation that overhauls the family violence system is a core part of reducing New Zealand’s horrendous rate of family violence, says Justice Minister Amy Adams.

The Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill was introduced to Parliament today to overhaul the Domestic Violence Act, amend six Acts and make consequential changes to over thirty pieces of law.

“It’s undeniable that one of the most concerning and most difficult social issues facing New Zealand is our unacceptably high rate of family violence. Part of this is the ingrained and insidious nature of the problem. But it’s also in the fact that there’s no easy or quick fix,” Ms Adams says.

“To properly tackle family violence we need to create an effective, integrated system for addressing it. We need a system that acts early to stop perpetrators hurting their families, protects victims, and breaks the cycle of re-offending.

“The omnibus Family and Whānau Violence Bill is an important part of building a new way of dealing with family violence. It implements our Safer Sooner reforms announced in September 2016 aimed at breaking the pattern of family violence and reducing the harm and cost inflicted on those who suffer violence and on the wider New Zealand society.

“These reforms will strengthen family violence laws and build the legal framework necessary to deliver the wider component of the work programme.

“There is no doubt that making a difference in family violence is hard. But I’m proud to be part of a Government that’s prepared to take on the big challenges.”

Key provisions of the Bill includes:

  • getting help to those in need without them necessarily 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 Order, allowing others to apply on a victim’s behalf, and better providing for the rights of children under Protection Orders
  • making evidence gathering in family violence cases easier for Police and less traumatic for victims
  • wider range of programmes able to be ordered when a Protection Order is imposed
  • making offending while on a Protection Order a specific aggravating factor in sentencing
  • supporting an effective system of information sharing across all those dealing with family violence
  • enabling the setting of codes of practice across the sector.

A copy of the Bill is available at https://goo.gl/HSnwza

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