Paid Parental leave differences and confusion

One of the new Government’s priority policies, being advanced under urgency in Parliament, is an increase in the length of time Paid parental leave will be paid for.

National has said they will vote for the bill, but have suggested a change.

The bill allows both parents to share the allowed number of weeks paid parental leave, but not at the same time. National wants to give parents the choice of taking leave at the same time if they want to, so for the first few weeks both can be on paid leave.

There are confused responses from Labour. Newshub – Confusion in Labour as National pushes for shared parental leave:

The National Party will support Labour’s legislation to provide 26-weeks of Paid Parental Leave (PPL), but wants it tweaked so both parents can take leave at the same time.

Labour’s response to the demand has been confused. While Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says the policy could be considered, Acting Prime Minister Kelvin Davis appeared to rule it out.

Labour’s policy allows parents to split 26 weeks of PPL between them but not take it at the same time.

Their policy is to increase PPL to 22 weeks next year, and to 26 weeks in 2020.

Amy Adams, National’s spokesperson for workplace relations, says that’s inflexible and “going back to the nanny state of telling families how to arrange their lives”.

Making ‘nanny state’ accusations is unlikely to help get cross-party agreement.

“The proposal we’re talking about would simply allow families to choose whether to take some or all of the leave together,” she said on Tuesday morning.

Ms Adams said the option of taking PPL together would be particularly helpful for parents of twins, premature babies and babies with older siblings. She said it wouldn’t add any additional cost.

National campaigned on the policy to increase PPL to 22 weeks and to allow parents to take some of those 22 weeks off at the same time.

Acting Prime Minister Kelvin Davis…

…appeared to cold-shoulder National’s idea, saying Labour is happy with the bill as is.

“We’re really excited by the fact that by 2020, parents will be able to take 26 weeks’ paid parental leave.”

“We’re happy with the bill that we’ve put forward.”

Willow-Jean Prime…

…said she knows how difficult being a new mother can be and would be talking to Minister for Workplace Relations Iain Lees-Galloway about adopting National’s amendment.

“That is one of the most challenging times – as soon as Mum has given birth – and I know in our own situation, that was a time I really appreciated having my husband there. Being a school teacher he only had about a week and that was difficult.”

Mr Lees-Galloway…

…is leaving the option open.

But he said the way it’s being explained by National at the moment goes against the spirit of the bill because it would reduce the overall amount of time parents could spend with babies.

An odd response. Labour’s stance would eliminate the possibility of the second parent from taking paid parental leave at the same time as the other parent, for example immediately after the baby was born.

It looks like Labour is lacking leadership (Jacinda Ardern is away in Asia) and lacking coordination, and Adams is lacking a conciliatory approach. Attack and criticism is not a good way to work together, as they should be on this bill.

Parliament under urgency

The 52nd Parliament of new Zealand kicked off under urgency yesterday.

A party vote was called for on the question, That urgency be accorded.

Ayes 60

New Zealand Labour 45; Green Party 8; New Zealand First 7.

Noes 55

New Zealand National 55.

Motion agreed to.

No vote from ACT.

RNZ: Govt puts Parliament into urgency to start 100-day plan

The new government made a swift start on its 100-day plan, putting the house into urgency within hours of Parliament’s state opening.

Senior National MP Amy Adams told the House she was witnessing an incredible turnaround of principles by the parties now on the government benches.

“From parties who until now have derided, castigated, abused, got outraged over the use of urgency.

“When the National-led government took urgency it was very clear as the the need and the reasons for doing so.”

It is clear why urgency is being used here too – the new Government wants to get a lot through Parliament in their first 100n days, but it is questionable whether rushing things is good for democracy and whether the legislation will be sound or not.

Opposition parties tend to oppose urgency. Jacinda Ardern has done this in the past – this from Hansard in 2013:

I did just want to say that although Labour supports this bill, we have proactively engaged with the Minister to get to this point. We had some initial concerns that this might not have been the outcome and we were seeking this particular outcome for now. This process, I think it is fair to say, would have been smoother, Minister, if perhaps we were not debating this one in urgency.

I know that that may not have been what you were necessarily seeking when you took it to your esteemed colleague the Leader of the House, but given that we now have this in an urgency motion, that will bring with it some complications, just in terms of our continuing to make sure that we debate it in full, as we are entitled to do with this process.

But that does not lessen the degree to which we support the notion of what we are doing within this bill. A bit more time with the bill would have also been helpful and appreciated. Although, as I have said, we support the content, we have not seen the content in writing till just now. I am literally just opening this bill as we speak.

Sounds like a similar situation to last night.

 

 

 

National criticise urgency but support Paid Parental Leave bill

The first bill to be considered by the new Parliament was debated under urgency, a move criticised as hypocritical, but National also voted for the bill, saying they shared policy to increase paid parental leave.

RNZ: Govt puts Parliament into urgency to start 100-day plan

The new government made a swift start on its 100-day plan, putting the house into urgency within hours of Parliament’s state opening.

The first bill to be debated under the new government enacts the extension to paid parental leave announced by the Prime Minister on Monday.

Minister for Workplace Relations Iain Lees-Galloway told Parliament the bill was a straight-forward one.

“It provides for a an increase in the duration of paid parental leave from the current 18 weeks to 26 weeks.

“This is achieved in two stages, first an increase to 22 weeks in 1 July 2018, with a further increase to 26 weeks on 1 July 2020.”

Despite National’s objections to the bill, it voted in support – saying it was in fact its policy as well to extend paid parental leave.

ACT voted against it.

The bill has to pass further readings before becoming law.

The bill is being pushed through under urgency, meaning it will skip the committee (and public submission) stage.

That led to accusations of hypocrisy from the Opposition, arguing Labour had castigated the National-led goverment for using urgency.

The legislation was being pushed through without being sent to a select committee, as the government argued it had already been through that process twice under the previous National government.

The first time it was voted down at third reading and the second time it got there it was vetoed by National.

It was vetoed on fiscal grounds, with the National led government saying they had no funds available.

Senior National MP Amy Adams told the House she was witnessing an incredible turnaround of principles by the parties now on the government benches.

“From parties who until now have derided, castigated, abused, got outraged over the use of urgency.

“When the National-led government took urgency it was very clear as the the need and the reasons for doing so.”

Ms Adams said the rushed, hurried, seat-of-the-pants process by the Labour-led coalition meant the bill was very light on detail.

New Zealand First’s Tracey Martin, the Minister for Children, said the bill had twice been through select committee with more than 6000 submissions, 99 percent of which were in support.

She said the bill was going through under urgency, because it was urgent.

“Because our families need it, our babies need it, our mothers and fathers need it – they need the security to know that as soon as possible they can plan for this.

I think this bill was probably chosen to push through under urgency because it had been debated last term in Parliament as a Member’s Bill, and it was a safe one to start with, uncontroversial and assured of passing.

But it is highly debatable whether it can be called ‘urgent’.

And the planned implementation doesn’t seem urgent – an increase in four weeks next July, and an increase of another four weeks in 2020.

The first bill to be considered by the new Government may signal the approach by National – a mix of apposition, criticism and cooperation.

 

 

 

Q+A – Adams v Twford on housing

 

Housing is a major issue for this election. Q+A has another debate between Amy Adams and Phil Twyford.

 

This rehashed the same old housing issues and I doubt whether it changed much in the debate.

Adams tried to emphasise things that are being done by the Government to alleviate a serious housing issue, and tried to divert from the problems that National were too slow to react to.

Twyford repeated his usual one lines, a number of which are blatantly misleading, and lacked in details about how Labour would deal with it. He said the problem was ‘simple’, which is nonsense.

Apology for historical homosexual convictions

Justice Minister Amy Adams gave a formal apology in Parliament today for historical convictions of consensual homosexual acts.

Historic moment for NZ gay community

A Bill introducing a scheme to wipe convictions for historical homosexual offences passed its first reading in Parliament today with unanimous support, says Justice Minister Amy Adams.

The passing of the first reading of the Criminal Records (Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Bill followed a formal apology by Parliament to the men who were convicted for homosexual offences.

“Today we put it on the record that Parliament deeply regrets the hurt and stigma suffered by the hundreds of men who were affected and that we recognise the continued effects the convictions have had on their lives,” says Ms Adams.

“The Bill is the next step in righting this wrong. It will allow men convicted of specific homosexual offences decriminalised by the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986 to apply to the Secretary for Justice to have their convictions wiped.”

The scheme will be open to applications from people with historical offences relating to sexual conduct between consenting men, or by a family member of partner if the person is deceased. The process will be free and applicants need not appear in person.

“There may be instances where the conduct a person was convicted of is still unlawful today, which is why the scheme requires a case-by-case approach,” says Ms Adams.

“If a person’s conviction is expunged, the conviction will not appear on a criminal history check for any purpose and they will be entitled to declare they had no such conviction when required to under New Zealand law.”

The Bill will now be considered by the Justice and Electoral Select Committee.

The Bill: Criminal Records (Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Bill

An overdue apology for what today seems like appalling laws that were applied during many of our lifetimes.

 

 

Bill to wipe historical homosexual convictions introduced

Signalled earlier in the year by the Government, Justice Minister Amy Adams has introduced a Bill to Parliament that “will allow men convicted of specific homosexual offences decriminalised by the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986 to apply to have the convictions wiped from their criminal record”.

This was initiated by a petition presented to MPS last year – so sensible petitions can be effective.

The Criminal Records (of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Bill was introduced to Parliament today.

“The tremendous hurt and stigma suffered by those who were affected can never be fully undone, but I hope that this Bill will go some way toward addressing that,” says Ms Adams.

“This Bill introduces the first ever expungement scheme in New Zealand.

“Allowing historical convictions for homosexual offences to remain on a person’s criminal record perpetuates the stigma which such convictions carry. A person can be further disadvantaged if they are required to disclose their conviction or it appears on a criminal history check.”

Ms Adams says the scheme will be open to applications from men with convictions for specific offences relating to sexual conduct between consenting men 16 years and over, or by a family member on their behalf if the person is deceased. The application process will be free for applicants.

“The scheme requires case-by-case assessments of the relevant facts to determine whether the conduct a person was charged with is still unlawful today. The decision will be made by the Secretary for Justice, without the need for a court hearing or for applicants to appear in person,” says Ms Adams.

“If a person’s conviction is expunged, the conviction will not appear on a criminal history check for any purpose and they will be entitled to declare they had no such conviction when required to under New Zealand law.”

Copy of the Bill:  www.parliament.nz/en/pb/bills-and-laws/bills-proposed-laws/document/BILL_74442/criminal-records-expungement-of-convictions-for-historical

It’s taken a long time but it’s good to see this being dealt with. It was abhorrent law in the not very distant past and the least that can be done now is to wipe any convictions.

Some history:

Male homosexual sex became illegal in New Zealand when the country became part of the British Empire in 1840 and adopted English law making male homosexual acts punishable by death.

The Offences Against The Person Act of 1867 changed the penalty of buggery from execution to life imprisonment. In 1893 the law was broadened so that sexual activity between men constituted “sexual assault” even if it was consensual. Penalties included life imprisonment, hard labour and flogging.

Sex between women has never been legally prohibited in New Zealand.

In 1961 the penalties for male homosexual activity were reduced, reflecting changing attitudes towards homosexuality.

In 1968 a petition signed by 75 prominent citizens and calling for legislative change was presented to (and rejected by) parliament.

The Act was introduced by Labour MP Fran Wilde in 1985. Originally, the bill had two parts – one decriminalised male homosexuality, while the other provided anti-discrimination law protections for lesbians and gay men.

The first part passed narrowly (49 Ayes to 44 Noes) on 9 July 1986, after an attempt by opponents to invoke closure and end debate was defeated by one vote the previous week; the bill might have failed if a vote was taken then as several supporters were kept away from Wellington by bad weather. Three National MPs voted for the bill, and other National MPs (including Doug Graham) would have supported the bill if it had been in danger of defeat.

The second part failed, but was incorporated into a supplementary order paper added to the New Zealand Human Rights Act 1993.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexual_Law_Reform_Act_1986

This is one example of a number of awful laws and prejudices of the not very distance past that have changed significantly in a more tolerant and sensible society.

As a civil society we’re not perfect yet, but this is another good step forward.

Stuff from last year: Homosexual Law Reform 30 years on – what was life like for the gay community pre-1986?

Amy Adams’ speech to Family Violence Summit

The speech by Amy Adams, Minister of Justice and Minister for Children, to the Family Violence Summit in Wellington yesterday.


Tēnā koutou katoa me ngā tini āhuatanga o te wā. Nau mai, haere mai.

Good morning.

Thank you Prime Minister for your opening comments, and thank you Sir Wira for taking on the role of Summit Chair.

I also want to give special acknowledgement to our four keynote speakers who will help set the tone for what I hope will be some incisive discussion today.

And thank you all for being here and for the contributions you make every day to help ensure that New Zealanders are living safer and happier lives.

We live in a country that we can be immensely proud of. New Zealand leads the world in so many ways – we were the first country to give women the right to vote, we have been recognised as the least corrupt country in the world and we are regularly voted the world’s best country to live.

But for too long, New Zealand has also been a world leader when it comes to our reported rate of family violence. It is a tragedy that our rate of family violence is one of the highest in the developed world, with New Zealand Police responding to an incident somewhere in the country every five minutes.

While family violence occurs across all parts of New Zealand society, for Maori in particular far too many homes experience violence and domination as the norm. That’s not what I want any child growing up in this country to see or experience.  I refuse to accept that this is as good as it can be and I am not willing to accept any level of family violence in the future of Aotearoa.

You’ve been invited here, as government agency representatives, NGO representatives, support workers, former perpetrators and survivors of family violence, because I know you share my determination to build a better system and because you all have stories to share and ideas to contribute about how we can do better to tackle family violence.

In working on this challenge we’ve already benefitted enormously from getting on-the-ground perspectives of those who have been working on the frontline, dealing with family violence every day, many of whom are here today.

We’ve also heard from victims who made brave and personal submissions about their experiences with family violence and the devastating impact it has.

And it absolutely does have a devastating impact, not just on the victims but on our society as a whole.

Family violence is affecting us all socially and economically. It’s causing devastating outcomes for children, increasing the youth suicide rate, costing businesses in lost productivity and pushing up our prison population. But more than that it is destroying for many the one thing we should all have and that is a family within which we are cherished and loved.

We can and must do better.

The Prime Minister earlier touched on the kind of family violence system that we’re aiming to get to and I want to spend some time going into a bit more detail about that.

As we’ve delved deeper into the issue of family violence over the past couple of years, we’ve learnt that the system has tended toward ad hoc, isolated and incident-based approaches that fail to properly understand and respond to the nature of family-based violence as an ongoing pattern of behaviour that needs an integrated and holistic response.

Simply viewing family violence as a responsibility of the Police or of the criminal justice system will at best stop a perpetrator from being able to cause harm for a short period.

We also know that non-aligned responses make it difficult for people to access the help they need. There are too many doors and paths to navigate so many victims and perpetrators either don’t get the right help for their particular needs, or don’t get any help at all.

We hear a lot about the high levels of family violence that goes unreported, but in fact a 2009 report by University of Auckland researchers Janet Fanslow and Elizabeth Robinson found that almost 77 per cent of women who experienced violence at the hands of their partner had told someone about the violence.

But frequently they are telling people outside of what we traditionally think of as the family violence sector. Very often they are actually telling family and friends or counsellors and medical staff.

Around 58 per cent had only ever told family or friends, 16 per cent had told a counsellor or mental health worker and 13 per cent had told a doctor or other health worker.

Compare that to the number of women who had told someone in the ‘traditional’ family violence sector. According to the research, only 13 per cent told Police and just over 2 per cent had told a women’s refuge.

Critically, when women did disclose the violence, far too often no one tried to help or the help was inadequate. For example, of the 77 per cent of women who did tell someone about the violence they experienced, more than 40 per cent said that no one tried to help them. This means that collectively we have been missing opportunities to help and help in the right way.

So when we hear the statistic that says two thirds of family violence incidents go unreported, we should bear in mind that actually the majority of victims have talked about their experience of violence by a partner, it’s just that across our communities we don’t have the mechanisms in place to ensure that victims get the help they need.

From what we know, these findings are still relevant today although we have seen an increase in reporting as a result of heightened awareness and improved practise in the last couple of years.

What it means for us as Government, agencies, NGOs and support workers but also as parents, sisters, brothers, friends and neighbours, is that we are all responsible for taking action. The onus should not be on the victim or left as the job as any particular agency.

You’ll have no doubt heard a lot of talk from us as a Government about social investment. Put simply, this just means ensuring we are intervening early, getting the right services to the right people, to make the greatest difference. It means putting the person who needs us at the centre of designing the approach, not responding agency by agency based on some arbitrary Government department delineation of who does what. And it means making sure that what we do is underpinned by the best evidence we can find.

Bearing in mind that study I’ve just talked about, a social investment approach means we need to arrange our family violence system so that when a victim, or a perpetrator, is brave enough to disclose to someone, anyone, what’s going on, the system is able to support him or her to get the help they need to stop future violence and provide the support needed for the victims, particularly the affected children, to recover from the trauma they’ve suffered.

When I talk about the potential of a social investment approach I always say, “We’re not there yet, but we’ve come far enough that we can see what it could look like and its potential”. The same is true of a fully integrated, effective family violence system. I am certainly not saying we are there yet, but the foundational components are shaping up, thanks to the hard work of many of you, and the structure of where we are going is becoming clear. That’s what I’d like to talk more about this morning.

What I believe we want to see is a future system where there is ‘no wrong door’ – meaning that no matter who a victim talks to about their experience, that person can find the information about what they need to do to help the victim.

To keep victims and families safe, those outside what we’ve traditionally thought of as the family violence system will have access to the information and pathways to know what to do next, and those within the response system will have the processes, protocols, capacity and skills to identify and respond to family violence and work together to keep victims safe.

Key Government agencies and NGOs will identify and understand their role in responding to family violence, provide leadership and mandate to those on the frontline, and support fully integrated practice.

For example, justice sector agencies would provide training for all frontline staff, establish specialist family violence teams, and proactively target high risk perpetrators to prevent violence, while family services will have training on the family violence danger signs and be able to discuss safety strategies with their client. At the same time, housing and welfare services are likely to be fast-tracking financial support and housing for victims and considering how best to prevent a perpetrator from financially abusing their victim.

Family, friends, neighbours and colleagues also have an important part to play. We need a system where everyone is equipped with information and skills to confidently recognise family violence and respond appropriately.

A system where there is ‘no wrong door’ will mean that every victim who approaches someone about their experience is heard, believed and helped no matter where they go.

This takes population-level education and easily accessed and appropriate resources to support family and whanau, workmates and friends to know what to look for and how they can best respond if they see or hear something of concern. The system will then need to know how to respond when these informal calls for help have been made.

So as I have said, we are not yet where we want to be and I’m not naïve enough to think that getting from where we are to where we could be will be easy or quick, but there is a lot of work underway that is supporting us to get there.

The Integrated Safety Response programme (ISR) in particular is showing signs of being a real game changer. It is showing us the full extent of the unmet demand, the necessity for a new approach and some of the critical components of what our future system needs.

Some of those involved in ISR have been quite robust in telling me that starting to deal properly with the complexity of need is causing challenges as the system reconfigures to respond better.

I acknowledge the difficulties and pressures this has created, but they have also been blunt in saying to me that, having seen the difference that dealing with cases of family and whanau violence in this way makes, they can never go back to operating as they did. That tells me we have to stay on this path. It’s not perfect yet but it is teaching us and shaping the future system in ways we’ve never before been able to do.

ISR has been running in Christchurch since July 2016 and in the Waikato since October 2016.

It involves a full complement of the core agencies and NGOs teaming up to ensure that families experiencing violence get the support they need to stay safe.

They do this by getting around a table every day, sharing information, assessing risk, developing and delivering individual family safety plans targeted to people and households that they know are at risk of violence, and working effectively with perpetrators to change their behaviour.

So far it has helped over 28,000 people in Christchurch and the Waikato through the development of over 9,000 family safety plans.

It is clear there have been cases where death or serious harm have been avoided as a result of the information sharing and interagency collaboration that ISR enables.

I’d like to share an example out of the Waikato pilot. An incident was reported to Police by a woman who had been assaulted by a male family member. The assaults had been occurring since the woman was young however this was the first incident that had been reported by the family.

The woman had also previously been abused by another male relative, and as a result that perpetrator was in prison. The male family member, who suffers from multiple mental health issues, had blamed the woman for the perpetrator being in prison.

The ISR team got together and held a Safety Assessment Meeting, after which an immediate referral was made to Disability Support Link. This was arranged through Oranga Tamariki and their High and Complex Needs Coordinator. A multi-agency discussion was facilitated through the Family Harm Prevention Team with DHB Mental Health, Explore and Parent to Parent support.

The male family member was enrolled in an anger management course and Explore have been making weekly visits to the family. The Police Family Harm Team also visited weekly to keep the family engaged until Mental Health took over. The ISR team reported that there have been no further incidents and the male family member is engaging well.

The difference between this response and a non-ISR response is that agencies got together around a table to share information and were able to make an assessment and develop a plan that best meet the needs of the perpetrator while keeping the victim safe. Before ISR, it would have been more difficult to share information and get an accurate picture of what was happening with the family. It is likely that without the ISR, the assaults would have continued.

Another example I’d like to share emphasises the importance of information sharing. As ACC claims are lodged by general practitioners, dentists, physiotherapists and DHB’s, they often provide a more in depth overview of accidents than DHB information. Following a family violence incident, ACC were able to share their information at the ISR table relating to a young victim.

The information provided in this instance detailed a significant claims history which painted a picture of family violence spanning the victim’s lifetime. The claim history significantly influenced the other agencies’ rating of the risk and ultimately helped produce a safety plan for this victim. It also meant that ACC was able to engage and offer support for the injuries sustained.

These are just a couple of examples of how an integrated approach should work – each agency recognising their role and working together to keep families safe. The agencies are not dealing with stand-alone issues that just happen to involve the same family – there is one family with one set of issues and each agency has a role in supporting the solution. The ISR teams in Christchurch and Waikato are making a real difference for families experiencing violence in their communities.

Because we’re committed to keeping every family in New Zealand safe, we want to see this integrated approach being used nationwide. While early signs are very promising, we know that the ISR is still evolving as we learn more every day about how to make it more effective.

That’s why we’re investing another $22.4 million through Budget 2017 to extend and expand the pilots for another two years. This will enable us to gather more information to perfect the ISR design and understand the support it requires to help ensure that a national model is successful.

In addition, ISR is a model based on responding to Police incidents and higher risk Corrections releases. The system needs more than that. Our future state also needs a pathway for self and community referrals where risks and needs can be assessed and acted on before the violence escalates to the formal justice system.

In fact, it is at that stage we have the greatest chance of making lasting changes to behaviour. The legal changes needed to fully implement these pathways are included in the Family and Whanau Violence Bill currently before the Parliament and we are working on designing pilots to test such assessment hubs now.

I mentioned earlier that for the ideal future state to be built, there are a number of critical foundational elements that are required. The Family and Whanau Violence Bill that is before Parliament is one of these and ISR is another, but there are a number of further components that the Ministerial Group on Family and Sexual Violence has been coordinating over the past two years.

No one of these elements should be viewed by itself – they are all intended to work as a whole to support, and allow us to build, a whole new way of working. Anyone looking for an announcement that by itself is the solution to this deeply ingrained, multi-generational issue is at best naïve.

What we do know is that for any future system to be successful, one of the foundations that will be needed is for there to be consistency across all the agencies, services and practitioners in the way they understand and deal with family violence risk.

One of the clear messages that has come through in our consultation with the public and practitioners in this space over the past two years is that a consistent approach to identifying and responding to risk is a critical component of building a ‘no wrong door’ model.

So today I am launching the Risk and Assessment Management Framework (RAMF) which establishes a common approach to screening, assessing and managing family violence risk. Minister Tolley will be launching another of these critical foundational elements in her speech to this Summit later today.

Although many of you working in family violence have your own risk assessment and management methods, we have never had a common approach nationally. Without this, the system is unable to begin to operate with a truly integrated approach. This Framework aims to achieve a level of consistency and best practice that will better support victims to recover and perpetrators to take responsibility.

It supports the ‘no wrong door’ model by helping to ensure that when people seek help for family violence, whatever path they take, they are supported with consistent, professional services that meet their needs.

The RAMF has been developed over the last 18 months with the help and input of a wide range of family violence practitioners, and can I say to all those who have taken part in this process that your detailed involvement has been critical to the RAMF being of the standard necessary to fulfil the important role it has and to ensure that it properly reflects the New Zealand cultural context.

A critical issue is that currently family violence often isn’t picked up until it’s entrenched. Or, if the early signs are recognised, the system is too slow to respond or responds inadequately, causing people seeking help to disengage. We cannot allow victims to be left to flounder on their own or go without support because they couldn’t navigate the system.

The RAMF will establish a more consistent, integrated and proactive approach where victims, perpetrators and their families are well supported through the complex network of agencies, services and practitioners towards a better outcome.

It provides practice values and expected generic practice approaches, including outlining a common understanding of family violence, for:

Generalist service providers – who may encounter victims or perpetrators of family violence as part of their work, but family violence isn’t their core business. This includes doctors, nurses, midwives  and teachers Statutory service providers – these are agencies and individuals whose core or sole business isn’t family violence but that provide statutory or legal responses to victims or perpetrators as part of their work, like Police, court staff, probation officers and some social workers Specialist service providers – these are the service providers whose core mandate is to respond to family violence and practitioners have specialist knowledge and skills, like Women’s Refuge and perpetrator behaviour change services.

Some agencies and practitioners, like the Police or child protection workers, will still develop their own risk assessment tools and approaches tailored to their own practices, but the RAMF will outline broad, high-level expectations to guide this process.

Over the next year, practice guidelines and associated tools and training will be developed for those groups working within the system on a daily basis.

The RAMF is now available for agencies, services and practitioners to review and consider what its expectations mean for how their current approach to family violence may need to adapt.

This is the chance to test the implementation of the RAMF with early adopters so that we can be sure it is fit for purpose, with the aim of rolling it out nationally from next year.

There will be a copy for everyone at the back of the room.

So ladies and gentlemen, we are under no illusions that there is a quick or easy fix that will solve our country’s horrific rate of family violence. It won’t happen quickly and none of us can do it alone.

But changes and better outcomes are absolutely possible and are the responsibility of us all.

If we are to truly change people’s lives and ensure that all children are able to grow up in homes where they feel safe and loved, we need to think differently and we need to work together.

That’s my challenge to you as you go away into today’s sessions and I look forward to hearing about the discussions which take place.

I am certainly acknowledging the parts of the system that Government needs to do and think about differently through funding, legislation, frontline response of agencies and by providing system leadership. I have committed to making this my number one priority for as long as I have the privilege of holding the role that I do.

I began this work with Minister Tolley two and a half years ago as we set up the Ministerial Group on Family and Sexual violence, bringing together colleagues representing 16 different portfolios who all were equally committed to building a better system.

Today is a chance to reflect on the learnings since then, the progress that has been made, and check in on the direction of future travel.

Nō reira, kia kaha, kia maia, kia toa tātau ki te tautoko, te whakapakari a tātou whānau.

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

Family violence response guides launched

Amy Adams, Minister of Justice and Minister for Courts, and Anne Tolley, Minister for Social Development and Minister for Children, have launched family violence response guides at a Family Violence Summit in Wellington.

“Family Violence is a complex issue in New Zealand with no single solution. We are making it our priority to help reduce the rate of family violence in New Zealand.”
Hon Amy Adams, Minister of Justice

“We want to draw on the expertise of NGOs and the frontline sector to inform our efforts to build a more integrated system and break the cycle of violence.”
Hon Anne Tolley, Minister for Social Development


Family violence response guides launched

New guides to support the family violence sector to provide consistent and effective help to victims and perpetrators are being launched today by Justice Minister Amy Adams and Social Development Minister Anne Tolley at the Family Violence Summit in Wellington.

Over 120 key players in the family violence sector are attending the Summit today to build on conversations to date about how to work together better to tackle New Zealand’s horrific rate of family violence.

“Thousands of New Zealand families are affected by family violence every day and too many of them are not getting all the help they need,” Ms Adams says.

“The current system for dealing with family violence is too fragmented so in addition to the work we’re doing to improve it, including the Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill and the Integrated Safety Response pilots, we’ve developed a framework which sets out common understanding of family violence, a clear protocol for assessing risk, and a consistent approach for supporting victims and perpetrators.

“The Risk Assessment and Management Framework aims to ensure that no matter who a victim or perpetrator approaches for help, the risks they face will be consistently identified, assessed and managed.”

Alongside the Risk Assessment and Management Framework, a guide outlining the capabilities needed by those in the family violence sector to successfully support victims, perpetrators and their families is also being launched.

“The family violence workforce is large and complex, involving government agencies, family and sexual violence specialists, NGOs and practitioners. There is a wide range of different practices and understandings, resulting in varying degrees of effectiveness,” says Mrs Tolley.

“The Workforce Capability Framework outlines the skills, knowledge and organisational support the workforce needs in order to provide an integrated, consistent and effective response to victims, perpetrators and their families.

“Both frameworks have been developed with the help of the sector, some of whom are at the Summit today. By working together we stand a much stronger chance of achieving better outcomes for victims and their families.”

Outcomes from the Summit will feed into and inform the work of the Ministerial Group on Family Violence and Sexual Violence. Sector members who could not attend the Summit are invited to give their views via an online survey.

The frameworks can be found here.


See NZ Herald:  Family violence: New holistic approach announced

Political ups and downs

From Stuff’s weekly summary of political ups and downs.

UP

Social Housing Minister Amy Adams: If you can’t beat ’em join ’em. Adams announced the government’s plans to build 34,000 new homes in Auckland over the next 10 years and got big ups even if, as her critics claim, she nicked the policy from Labour and there’s some trickery over the numbers.

It’s not exactly nicked policy. National had to be seen to be doing something to address the severe Auckland housing shortage, and their plans are significantly different to Labour’s.

Labour leader Andrew Little: The Labour congress and Little’s property speculator tax got his agenda back on track and got people talking about Labour policy again rather than splits and divisions.

Prime Minister Bill English: Japan’s commitment to the trans Pacific Partnership Agreement is a huge boost to New Zealand and ensured English’s trip there was a success.

DOWN

Greens co-leader James Shaw. Shaw claimed  Donald Trump was the “worst world leader since Hitler“, SAD. SILLY.

Alfred Ngaro. The junior government minister earned himself a dressing down after crossing the line and threatening financial reprisal to groups that disagreed with the government line.

Shaw’s claim was embarrassing for him but probably won’t be very damaging.

Ngaro’s threat was seriously embarrassing for National and could lurk through the election campaign as an example of the arrogance of third term power.

From: Below the beltway: Amy Adams gets the plaudits for policy some say she nicked and James Shaw ends up with egg on his face

 

More housing responsibilities for Adams

Nick Smith has been probably the poorest public performer in Government over the last few years. He has had to try to deal with the difficult housing issues in Auckland, but has often done that badly.

Amy Adams has been one of the best performers. She has been gradually taken over housing responsibilities from Smith, who remains as Minister for the Environment and just one housing responsibility, Building and Construction.

In comparison Adams has a long portfolio list:

  • Minister of Justice
  • Minister for Courts
  • Minister for Social Housing
  • Minister Responsible for Housing New Zealand Corporation
  • Minister Responsible for Social Investment
  • Associate Minister of Finance

Two of those are directly involved with housing, but Social Investment and Finance have close relationships with Government housing.

Isaac Davidson at NZH: Adams rises, Smith falls in Cabinet reshuffle

Bill English’s reshuffle marks another rise in the ranks for National’s quiet star Amy Adams.

It is also a demotion for Nick Smith, who has now been distanced from any responsibility for the Government’s house-building programme.

English today denied any suggestion of a demotion for Smith, saying reporters “should not read into it”.

But his appointment of Adams appears to recognise that National is bracing for an election-year fight on housing and that Smith wasn’t fit to lead it.

Adams was already responsible for social housing, emergency housing, and Housing New Zealand. She has now been given control over the National-led Government’s plans to build tens of thousands of homes in the next decade.

There are tentative signs that Smith’s various initiatives to lift supply in Auckland are gaining some traction. And as English keeps repeating, the problem is not money but space – something which Government has limited control over.

But it is clear that Smith had lost the public argument on housing affordability.

Adams is a highly capable, confident minister, and perhaps most importantly a good communicator.

English is now trusting her with a huge workload. On top of her housing roles, she maintains the large justice portfolio, and is also responsible for the newly created social investment agency.

Adams has five months to do what Smith couldn’t and at least give the impression that National has the situation under control.

Housing is going to be one of the big issues this election after house prices have gone mad, especially in Auckland but increasingly elsewhere in the country.

People who already own homes may like the increase in value, but those who don’t will see home ownership as an increasingly difficult goal (if that’s what they want, some people are happy to rent).

Adams has little time to fix housing, but if she doesn’t appear as cranky as Smith she will at least give better appearances of competence.