Pre-budget announcement addressing family and sexual violence

It is good to see the Government putting more into initiatives and the budget to try to address family and sexual violence better. It will be difficult, but more needs to be done. Violence is one of the biggest problems in New Zealand. It affects families, communities, health, education, imprisonment rates, employment and productivity, and increases the number of beneficiaries.


Breaking the cycle of family and sexual violence

Breaking the cycle of family and sexual violence and better supporting survivors is a major feature of the Wellbeing Budget, with the Government delivering the largest ever investment in family and sexual violence and support services.

The budget package will deliver more support services delivered to more New Zealanders, major campaigns aimed at stopping violence occurring and major changes to court process to reduce the trauma victims experience.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Parliamentary Under-Secretary Jan Logie today announced a new and collaborative approach to tackling one of the country’s most disturbing long-term challenges.

“There has never before been investment of this scale in preventing and responding to family violence and sexual violence,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“Every year about one million New Zealanders are affected by family and sexual violence, including almost 300,000 children. This is something I know New Zealand is ashamed of and the Government is taking a major step forward in fixing on the budget.

“Wellbeing means being safe and free from violence. That is why this package is such a significant cornerstone of the Wellbeing budget.

“My goal has always been for New Zealand to be the best place in the world to be a child and that means supporting parents and communities to ensure children grow up in secure homes free from violence,” Jacinda Ardern said.

The family and sexual violence package, which sits across eight portfolios, is the result of the first ever joint Budget bid from multiple government departments. It includes funding and support for:

• 1 million New Zealanders covered by Integrated Safety Response sites (Christchurch and Waikato), and 350,000 by the WhāngaiaNgā Pā Harakeke and Whiria Te Muka sites (in Gisborne, Counties Manukau and Kaitaia)
• 24/7 sexual violence crisis support services for up to 2,800 children and young people every year, and an additional 7,700 adult victims and survivors from 2020/21
• Funding for major advertising campaigns and intervention programmes to reduce violence occurring
• Using video victim statements to reduce trauma for up to 30,000 victims of family violence every year, and reduce time spent in court,
• Enabling victims of sexual violence to give evidence in court in alternative ways in order to reduce the risk of experiencing further trauma, and providing specialist training for lawyers in sexual violence cases
• specialist training for lawyers in sexual violence cases
• improving the wellbeing of male victims and survivors of sexual violence through peer support services – up to 1,760 from 2020/21 onwards
• dedicated funding for a kaupapa Māori response to sexual violence
• training for health practitioners in District Health Boards to provide effective screening and referrals for family violence
“We know this is a long-term project. The package we’re announcing today lays the foundations for a violence-free Aotearoa New Zealand,” Jan Logie, Under-Secretary to the Minister of Justice (Domestic and Sexual Violence Issues) said.

“The package announced today gives providers funding security, while making available significant extra resource to break the cycle of violence and provide more women, men and children the help they need.

“I want to acknowledge and thank Ministers Andrew Little, Carmel Sepuloni, Tracey Martin, Nanaia Mahuta, Chris Hipkins, Stuart Nash, Kelvin Davis, Iain Lees-Galloway, and Jenny Salesa for their support and commitment to this work,” Jan Logie said.

The Wellbeing Budget 2019 family violence and sexual violence package comprises initiatives across five areas:
• Preventing family violence and sexual violence [$47.8 million over 4 years]
• Safe, consistent and effective responses to family violence in every community [$84.3 million over 4 years]
• Expanding essential specialist sexual violence services: moving towards fully funding services [$131.1 million over 4 years]
• Reforming the criminal justice system to better respond to victims of sexual violence. [$37.8 million over 4 years]
• Strengthening system leadership and supporting new ways of working [$20.0 million over 4 years]
• The total monetary value of the package is $320 million (comprising new operating funding of $311.4 million, and $9.5 million of capital funding).

 

30% increase in funding for family violence services

One pre-budget announcement, a 30% increase in funding for family violence services, is long overdue.In dollar terms it isn’t a lot, but it is critical that much more is done to reduce both family violence and the effects of family violence.

I think it is one thing that was genuinely neglected by the National led government.

Significant funding boost for family violence services

Social services dealing most directly with the harm caused by family violence will get much needed support as the Government boosts funding to front line agencies for the first time in ten years.

“Nearly half of those receiving the increase are women’s refuges who provide vital support keeping women and children safe,” said Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni.

“The 30 percent increase in funding is critical to the Government’s efforts to begin to turn around New Zealand’s tragic family violence record.

“Additional funding in 2019/20 will enable these critical front line agencies to expand into areas where there isn’t currently any support or start addressing over demand in existing services.

“Family violence has a damaging, yet often hidden, impact on victims’ lives including their ability to work and lead a normal life,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

Through Budget 2018, the Government is allocating an additional $76.157 million over four years to support the delivery of Ministry of Social Development-funded family violence services for victims, perpetrators and their families.

Carmel Sepuloni said, “This funding will provide a boost to around 150 providers of family violence services nationwide.”

This has benefits across portfolios.

 Jan Logie, Under-Secretary to the Minister of Justice on Domestic and Sexual Violence Issues, also welcomed the new funding.

“This funding is an important first step, supporting organisations which do vital work but have been stretched to breaking point,” Jan Logie said.

“As we get started on the broader work of challenging and responding to family and sexual violence, it’s crucial that victims and their families are able to get the support they need now. Because they can’t wait.”

Minister for Children Tracey Martin said Budget 2018 funding would have an impact right across New Zealand.

“The announcement delivers on the Coalition Agreement between Labour and New Zealand First to increase funding in this area,” Tracey Martin said.

Family violence feeds general societal violence, so it is critical it is reduced and dealt with more effectively.

I don’t care whether this funding was promised during the campaign, negotiated when the Government was put together, or has come later. Better funding to address awful amounts of family violence is something that had to happen.

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.

Kids forced to spend time with abusers

Newshub reports:  Kids forced to spend time with abusers, damning Family Court report says

An independent anti-violence group has released a damning report on the Family Court system.

More than 600 women spoke out in the report, compiled by lobby group Backbone Collective, with more than half saying their experience of abuse wasn’t believed or responded to.

It found abuse victims are more fearful for own and their children’s safety after turning to the court, and co-author Deborah Mackenzie says the process is so draining it affects their health.

“Women talked about having anxiety, PTSD, being suicidal, miscarrying pregnancies, not being able to sleep, having eating disorders – all as a result of being stuck in the Family Court for many, many years.”

Respondents also reported being forced into mediations and children were in some cases pushed to reluctantly spend time with their abusers, the report says.

There appears to be a lot of work needed in sorting out how violence, domestic abuse and abuse of children is dealt with.

The Backbone Collective is a national coalition of survivors of Violence Against Women in Aotearoa New Zealand.

We need to call out to each other – the survivors – the women who have the words and understanding to make sense of the Violence Against Women problem.  WE can do this.  We can create a new backdrop to the way Violence Against Women is responded to. Together we can make sure that the dominant voice being heard is that of the survivors rather than the abusers…Let’s turn up the volume so the deaf ears hear us

But in April  Family court strikes back at the Backbone Collective

The Principal Family Court judge has refuted criticisms of the court made by a group of women known as the Backbone Collective, set up by a domestic abuse survivor.

The women claimed they were re-victimised by court process, that the court was not open to public or media scrutiny, and that their complaints had been brushed off.

The Backbone Collective submitted 160 questions to the Government, demanding to know why the system was letting them down.

But Family Court Judge Laurence Ryan disregarded their allegations as “premised on erroneous or flawed interpretations” of the court’s legal framework, or as having been dealt with by Parliament already.

He said that he would not respond in the way the collective sought because “combative debate that pits the judiciary against those who rely on the court’s help” would not improve outcomes.

He highlighted that the womens’ “anecdotal evidence” was a small fraction of about 60,000 applications lodged with the court each year.

The Backbone Collective called the court out for minimising allegations of family violence during periods where parenting access was being considered.

“We are not entering into combative debate as Judge Ryan suggests,” it said in a statement. “We are providing a safe way for women to tell those in authority how the system responds to them when they experience violence and abuse. We thought the Family Court would want to know that currently many women feel they are put in more danger when the Family Court is involved.”

“Surely when systems aren’t working well and safely those in charge want to know how to fix it?”

However, Ryan said the court had “mechanisms” to prevent parents who had been in violent relationships from meeting during this process.

Some of the collective had said they felt legislation meant the rights of abusive fathers trumped the safety of their children.

“Many of the questions addressed to this office relate to matters either already being actively considered by Parliament around family violence, or which have been dealt with by Parliament relatively recently,” he said.

Ryan disputed three of the collective’s broad claims.

On the court’s alleged secrecy, he noted that “more and more” court decisions were available online and that “many” of its proceedings had been reported publicly since law changes in 2004 and 2008.

In response to allegations of absent independent monitoring, Ryan said that all of the court’s decisions were open to appeal – and that judicial conduct was held accountable through an independent complaints body.

“This is the safety valve inherent in the New Zealand justice system,” he said.

Dealing with family violence will always be difficult and imperfect, but improvements should always be sought.

Ryan admitted that the court was not a perfect solution for everyone: “Not all people who are enduring broken, painful or damaged relationships and who come to court seeking resolution or justice will go away satisfied,” he said.

Societal and law enforcement attitudes to family violence have changed significantly in the last forty years in New Zealand, but rates of violence are still terrible so much more needs to be done.

See Family violence response guides launched

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

Related Documents

 

More on family violence proposals

During the week the Government announced proposals aimed at addressing and reducing family violence – see The Government’s most important policy – family violence.

Yesterday Justice Minister Amy Adams was interviewed on The Nation about it.

Justice Minister Amy Adams speaks to Lisa Owen about her family violence law reform – does it go far enough? 

Interview: Amy Adams

The Nation repeats at 10 this morning.

Q & A is also interviewing Adams (TV1 9:00 am).

Justice Minister Amy Adams talks to Greg Boyed about her family violence reforms announced this week. Will they make a difference to our high rate of domestic violence?

And he also asks whether she agrees with calls to keep 17 year olds in the youth court – is it time to raise the age of youth justice?

Our panel includes Justspeak spokesperson Julia Spelman, Graham Barnes from the domestic violence charity Shine, lawyer Stephen Franks and political scientist Dr Jennifer Curtin.

This is an important issue – family violence has serious implications for relationships, children, health, education, crime, employment – it’s effects are widespread and insidious.

One positive is there is general Cross party support for family violence proposals.

However Labour’s family violence spokesperson has taken a swipe at the Government: Labour: Community agencies needed to reduce violence

The Government is being accused of leaving frontline agencies out of the picture when it comes to tackling family violence.

Only a small portion of a $130 million package to reduce violence in Kiwi homes will go to non-government organisations like Women’s Refuge.

Labour’s family violence spokesperson, Poto Williams, says that’s not good enough.

“I’m really concerned that the minister has completely missed the boat,” says Ms Williams. “You cannot take just a justice response to this or just look at introducing new laws.”

Ms Williams says it will be impossible to eliminate family violence without community agencies.

She says Justice Minister Amy Adams is being too simplistic.

“The only way that people are actually going to eliminate violence from their lives is to have community agencies and NGOs working alongside them for the long term.”

Ms Williams says a multi-layered approach is needed to the issue, rather than just focussing on law and order.

There is already a ‘multi-layered’ approach, with the Government looking at bolstering some aspects of that.

If more effective ways of preventing and reducing family violence are successful then ‘ambulance at the bottom of the cliff’ agencies should be needed less.

Cross party support for family violence proposals

The Press editorial: Government’s $130 million family violence package is a solid start

A $130 million plan announced by the Government this week to crack down on violence in Kiwi homes has been welcomed by most victims, support and advocacy groups, and politicians on both sides of the House.

While there are some concerns and reservations, it is good to see cross party support for this.

Greens: Family violence law reforms will help

It is heartening that the Government is finally starting to address the failure of our justice system to provide protection for victims of family violence or support abusers to change,  the Green Party said today.

“Family violence is currently embedded in New Zealand culture and we all need to be brave to face the level of changes needed to address it,” Green Party women’s spokesperson Jan Logie said.

“Too many families have been further traumatised and indebted trying to get legal protection through our courts. Changes to legal aid and the Family Court last term prioritised cost-saving over protecting victims. These reforms will hopefully go some way to addressing that harm caused.

“All New Zealanders need to hear loud and clear the message that family violence, intimate partner violence, and violence against children is unacceptable.     

United Future: UNITEDFUTURE WELCOMES OVERDUE REFORMS TO TACKLE FAMILY VIOLENCE – DUNNE

UnitedFuture leader, Peter Dunne has welcomed the changes proposed today to strengthen New Zealand’s Family Violence laws.

“Our families are the bedrock of our communities and the rates of family violence we have in this country are appalling.

“These changes signal a much-needed shift in the way we respond to family violence,” said Mr Dunne.

“The key issue that needs to be focused on in New Zealand is the alarming fact that it is estimated nearly 80% of family violence incidents go unreported.

“If these reforms make any difference towards providing help to those people who currently do not feel safe or are not comfortable coming forward with their plight, then these policy initiatives will result in positive and meaningful reform.

“UnitedFuture congratulates the government for constructively responding to this unacceptable behaviour that is a blight to our families and communities”, said Mr Dunne.

ACT Party: ACT welcomes beefed up family violence laws, but…

ACT has welcomed the boost to family violence laws announced today, but questions why non-fatal strangulation isn’t a strike offence.

“ACT believes the justice system should always put the victim first. In that spirit, we’re relieved to see new protections for victims of family violence,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Reducing the cost and complexity of obtaining restraining orders is a no-brainer, and legislating against coercive marriage is an overdue protection of basic personal freedom.

“We also support the introduction of an offence for non-fatal strangulation. However, it’s perplexing to discover that non-fatal strangulation will not be included as a strike offence under the Three Strikes for Violent Crime legislation.

“The Three Strikes law, an ACT initiative, has been working well to keep repeat violent offenders behind bars and away from potential victims, so it’s disheartening to see it undermined by the current legislation. Strangulation, like all violent crime, is a serious offence and should be treated as such.”

NZ First via RNZ ‘I’ve seen the black eyes, no-one talks about it’

New Zealand First MP Denis O’Rourke said the measures were a step in the right direction.

“Fundamentally, what they’re saying is there needs to be more guidance, information and education on the one hand but also harsher penalties. I would have thought that that two-pronged approach is the right way to go,” Mr O’Rourke said.

Labour via RNZ ‘I’ve seen the black eyes, no-one talks about it’

Labour’s associate justice spokesperson Poto Williams said tighter bail conditions would increase safety for women and their children.

But she said the government should have made it easier for offenders to access services to help them stop violent behaviour.

Maori party via RNZ ‘I’ve seen the black eyes, no-one talks about it’

Māori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell said having witnessed domestic violence as a child, he hoped the changes would help reduce the appalling statistics.

Mr Flavell said family violence was prevalent in almost every neighbourhood and changes were certainly needed.

He said it was all too often swept under the rug.

“I’ve sat on a bunk next to my cousins and I’ve heard the smashing of the walls. I’ve heard the throwing of pots around the place. I’ve seen the black eyes – and no-one talks about it.”

Cabinet documents showed police attended an average of 280 family violence incidents each day.

Mr Flavell, who is Māori Development Minister, said everyone had a part to play in bringing down those rates.

“That’s the key – you’ve got to start bringing it out of the cupboard. We’ve got to put it out on the table.”

“There’s a part to play by the actual government, by changing laws but actually families have got to talk about it and do something about it.”

Flavell is right, it is not just up to Parliament and the Government to make improvements.

Families and communities “have got to talk about it and do something about it“.

While there are details to be worked out it is promising to see all parties supporting this attempt to reduce our insidious levels of family violence.

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.

keyonviolence

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 www.justice.govt.nz/justice-sector-policy/key-initiatives/reducing-family-and-sexual-violence/safer-sooner


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.

 

 

Speaking out on family violence

Continuing on their series today NZ Herald quotes a number of people including Police Commissioner Mike Bush, Police Minister Judith Collins, Andrew Little plus a few actors.

family_violence_article_banner

Family violence: New Zealanders speak out

New Zealand has the worst rate of family and intimate-partner violence in the world. Eighty per cent of incidents go unreported — so what we know of family violence in our community is barely the tip of the iceberg.

Today is the final day of We’re Better Than This, a week-long series on family violence.

Our aim is to raise awareness, to educate, to give an insight into the victims and perpetrators. We want to encourage victims to have the strength to speak out, and abusers the courage to change their behaviour.

Take a stand – NZ is #BetterThanThis

So here’s a prompt for Your NZers to speak out.

Steve Dunne response to Veitch

Illustrating how fraught speaking about family violence can be Kristen Dunne-Powell’s father Steve Dunne responds bitterly to Tony Veitch featuring in an NZ Herald series on violence – Tony Veitch: Acceptance, remorse and recovery.

Dunne from Stuff: I wish my daughter was not forever connected to Tony Veitch

In the 10 years since Tony Veitch broke my daughters back, she has rebuilt her life completely.

We are immensely proud of her resilience and the person she is.

We do not dwell in the past and we have followed her lead in moving past this.

However, I wish she was not forever more connected to this man.

I have witnessed her pain again today, on what should be a special day for her and our family.

The constant reminders of this public case also haunt her as she attempts to go happily about her daily life.

So, as Tony puts our case back into the public arena, our family question what do we do?

Stay silent, and just let it go … say nothing. Is that the best way I can protect my daughter? and other women in abusive relationships?

New Zealand Herald’s own editorial tells us not to do this.

“Silence can too easily be misinterpreted as condoning the act. More often, silence will be hiding the hearer’s utter disgust”. So the New Zealand Herald allowing Mr Veitch’s self serving propaganda (again) astounds us.

And positioning him as part of the solution is an insult to all true victims of this tragic issue.

If this “apology” showed genuine remorse, it would have been given privately to our daughter.

She has never received one. So who gains from this public “apology”? And actually is it an apology at all? Tony, to atone for your actions, you must stand in the complete truth.

This was no one-off, as you still attempt to mislead the New Zealand public to believe.

The other charges were never presented to the court, but they remain evidence of your systematic abusive pattern. In those files lies a very inconvenient truth for you.

Through Kristin’s charitable work we have met many former perpetrators of violence who are now White Ribbon ambassadors and I encourage you Tony to seek their help and support, so you may genuinely and deeply face your abusive actions, with integrity. And truth.

Repeated in full. That is fairly damning of Veitch, it looks like he has botched this badly. He has re-opened old wounds, if he is genuinely remorseful he needs to address this.

Also from Stuff:

WHERE TO GET HELP

• Women’s refuge crisisline: 0800 733 843

• Lifeline (open 24/7): 0800 543 354

• Depression Helpline (open 24/7): 0800 111 757

• Samaritans (open 24/7): 0800 726 666