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).

 

“If we really cared about sexual violence we would…”

Catriona MacLennan is ‘a barrister, journalist, author and media commentator, who has practised law in areas including family and domestic violence’.

In  High time to end sexual violence double-standards (RNZ) she refers to apparent police inaction over alleged threats to attack and potentially kill people who planned a protest against ‘rape culture’ in Wellington, and offers some suggestions in dealing with attitudinal and behavioural problems.

If we really cared about sexual violence we would:

  1. Never again treat comments about rape and denigration of women as jokes.
  2.  Do pro-active monitoring and take action to prevent online sexual harassment and cyber-bullying of young women.
  3. Teach consent in all schools.
  4.  Prosecute males for threatening to kill, conspiring to commit rape, sexual assault and other relevant offences.
  5.  Educate lawyers and law students about rape myths, and treat the use of rape myths in trials as serious misconduct for lawyers. Lawyers’ first duties are to the court and to the administration of justice. Perpetuating rape myths undermines the administration of justice.
  6. Teach boys to respect women.
  7.  Provide paid lawyers for victims in sexual assault cases.
  8.  Accredit and specially train prosecution and defence lawyers working on sexual offence cases.
  9. Make progress on improving police treatment of rape cases a Key Performance Indicator for the Police Commissioner.
  10. Make it a national goal for Aotearoa to be sexual-violence-free by 2020.

Young men learn their attitudes to women and to rape from older men.

She makes some reasonable points, but in slanting her suggestions too much she is going to annoy many of the people she needs to get onside.

While boys and men are certainly blameworthy this is a complex whole of society problem and females are not always blameless either. Mothers can teach children by good and by poor example as well as fathers. Girls and women can reinforce damaging cultures too.

I would re-word MacLennan’s suggestions.


If we really cared about sexual violence we would:

  1. Never again treat comments about rape and denigration of peeople as jokes.
  2.  Do pro-active monitoring and take action to prevent online sexual harassment and cyber-bullying of young people.
  3. Teach consent in all schools.
  4.  Prosecute people for threatening to kill, conspiring to commit rape, sexual assault and other relevant offences.
  5.  Educate lawyers and law students about rape myths, and treat the use of rape myths in trials as serious misconduct for lawyers. Lawyers’ first duties are to the court and to the administration of justice. Perpetuating rape myths undermines the administration of justice.
  6. Teach children to respect other people.
  7.  Provide paid lawyers for victims in sexual assault cases.
  8.  Accredit and specially train prosecution and defence lawyers working on sexual offence cases.
  9. Make progress on improving police treatment of rape cases a Key Performance Indicator for the Police Commissioner.

Young people learn their attitudes to sex and to rape from both their peers and off older people, in particular their parents.


Yes, there are more and worse male offenders but not all boys and men, and it’s not only boys and men. Labelling all males and ignoring female culpability will alienate rather than encourage joint actions and solutions.

I have omitted the ‘sexual-violence-free by 2020’ target as it is unrealistic, especially in that time frame. Our aims should be to substantially improve attitudes to sex and to other genders and to people in general, and to significantly reduce sexual violence as quickly as possible.

But there are no quick and easy fixes.

If we really cared about sexual violence we would work rather than make it a male versus female problem.

Sexual violence law recommendations

Justice Minister Amy Adams is considering a Law Commission report that recommends significant changes to how sexual violence and assault cases are dealt with by the courts.

Many sexual complaints don’t even get to court, in part due to the stress and difficulties for complainants in sexual cases.

And many cases that do get to court are indecisive, with 8% of trials being retrials due to hung juries, compared to 0.8% of all trials.

In Report suggests no juries in rape trials NZ Herald lists key Law Commission recommendations:

A sexual violence court as a two-year pilot, with specialist judges and counsel.

  • Have District Court and High Court judges take training courses in order to sit on a sexual violence case.
  • Consider an alternative to juries in such cases — perhaps a specially trained judge alone or judge with two expert “lay assessors”.
  • Consider limiting the right to trial by jury in sexual violence cases.
  • Enable victims to seek redress such as an apology, and which wouldn’t lead to a conviction.
  • Ensure cases start in a timely fashion.

Sexual complaint cases can be particularly difficult due to the (often) lack of witnesses in incidents involving just the accused and the complainant, and also the many grey areas of what constitutes offences and what constitutes consent or lack of consent.

The Law Commission has also recommended providing an alternative process for certain lower-level cases, outside the criminal justice system.

Victims would initiate the process and seek redress such as an apology or payment and the perpetrator would not have a criminal record.

That sounds like potentially a good way of dealing with less serious cases.

There were also “powerful cultural conceptions” that were “unique to sexual violence as a form of criminal offending”.

These could include moral beliefs about how a woman should behave, and misplaced ideas about how sexual violence occurs or the “correct” response.

The commission concludes there is a case for eventually putting sexual violence cases before something other than a jury – perhaps a judge alone or judge with two expert “lay assessors”, as in Germany.

That also sounds like it is worth trying.

Green MP: “huge win” for victims of sexual violence

A significant achievement by Green MP Jan Logie who initiated a Social Services Select Committee inquiry into sexual violence services, with the Government accepting or broadly accepting all the committee’s recommendations.

Funding to implement the recommendations will be announced in the budget in May.

Green Party press release: Huge win for sexual violence survivors and services today

The Government’s decision to accept all recommendations from a Select Committee inquiry initiated by Green Party MP Jan Logie is a huge win for sexual violence survivors and those working to help them, the Green Party says.

The Government has today released its response to the recommendations of the Social Services Select Committee, following an inquiry into sexual violence services sparked by Green Party women’s spokesperson Jan Logie. The Government has accepted or broadly accepted all 32 of the committee’s recommendations.

“This is an enormous win for the victims of sexual violence and for those working to help them, who have endured a severe lack of funding for far too long,” Ms Logie said.

“It is a huge relief that the inquiry I initiated, with the help of the committee chairman Alfred Ngaro, will see real change in sexual violence services for victim survivors.

“I look forward to a substantial budget increase in this year’s Budget, and for the Government to collaborate with the sector to deliver a new model.

“While indications are good overall for the sector, the Government qualified their support for three important recommendations: accessible services, remuneration for staff, and strengthening existing kaupapa Māori services. I will be continuing to advocate for these crucial outcomes.

“Over the past two years the committee heard how the victims of sexual violence have gone without the help they need.

“Instead of being funded properly, vital services like Rape Crisis and Women’s Refuge have had to cut hours and reduce services as their funding was cut or not increased to meet demand.

“I have been out collecting for Rape Crisis today for their annual appeal, but the survival of services should not rely solely upon charity.

“We look forward to more collaboration, more money, and better services for victim survivors,” Ms Logie said.

I admit to not being impressed by Logie as an MP in the past but this is a significant achievement.

Logie has proven that opposition MPs can be effective and achieve results.

Davis backs talk with sexual violence walk

Kelvin Davis promised to campaign against sexual and domestic violence when he was elected for the Te Tai Tokerau electorate. He’s putting his talk into action.

On Friday Davis and several friends will begin a Massive (Men Against Sexual Violence) 17-day hikoi to raise awareness around sexual violence, starting at the Auckland Harbour Bridge and plans to arrive in Cape Reinga on June 14.

Stuff reports Kelvin Davis walking the talk highlighting sexual and domestic violence.

Davis says it isn’t a new issue and for decades women and children have carried the secret but it was time for everyone – men in particular – to speak out.

Good on him, I agree men should be speaking out more.  And it’s not always easy as it can come up against resistance, as Davis recalls:

He was working only a six-minute drive down the road from Pamapuria School where paedophile school teacher James Parker was deputy principal. Parker was sentenced in 2013 for more than 300 offences.

Five years before Parker’s atrocities were revealed, Davis had held a meeting with a number of community leaders about the increasing amount of sexual and domestic violence in the Northland region.

In just three weeks he had heard of 13 incidents but when he expressed his outrage at the meeting it was met with deathly silence.

His pleas to do something were met with concern about whether the region could cope with “what might come out of the woodwork” if the issue was exposed.

Not wanting to expose what’s been happening ‘in the woodwork’ has protected sexual offenders for far too long.

“Five years later and the James Parker stuff happened and I kicked myself for not backing my instincts. If I’d done something more when I’d first had concerns about it then maybe we could have done something to have stopped him hurting more victims.”

So now Davis is prepared to raise the issue right through his electorate.

So many people spent their time navel gazing about the high youth suicide rate when “in most cases you can guarantee there was sexual violence or domestic violence in the background”, he claimed.

That kind of upbringing ruined a child’s potential, he said.

“Teachers are trying to teach kids when their heads are full of what happened last night when Uncle snuck in the bedroom and teachers are wondering why kids are gazing out the window and totally not interested.”

Domestic violence generally and particularly sexual violence and offending cause many problems in families and throughout society. Damage can last for a lifetime.

This is sleeves rolled up representation so top marks to Kelvin for confronting what has long been a dirty secret.

Kelvin Davis at a sexual violence hui

Kelvin Davis continues his interest in engaging on the sexual violence issue. He attended a hui in Christchurch today and reported on Facebook:

I am in Christchurch at another hui regarding sexual violence. This time we had a group of men to discuss issues together.

One man shared his experiences of being abused by his father and the resulting effect the sexual violence had on his life and how he turned to alcohol to help him cope. For 50 years he struggled with what had happened to him, he was locked up in institutions and police cells.

He is proud to say that with professional help he has been off the booze for 18 years and been able to deal with what happened to him.

It is pretty powerful and moving stuff that we are being told. Sexual violence has long term effects on lives and affects the ability of too many to achieve their potential therefore is a barrier to personal productivity and self realisation.

Sexual violence needs non partisan support and long-term funding commitment so that agencies don’t have to apply on a year to year basis for funds to survive and support survivors.

And…

Just listening to a very moving account from a young woman who is recounting her experience with counselling for sexual abuse.

Says she has been made to feel guilty for what happened to her with questions like, “What could you have tone differently to avoid what happened to you?”

When she knows there was nothing she could do about someone else’s behaviour.

She said that being asked to find forgiveness for her abuser is too much to ask of her after what happened to her. She said, people have to give a shit, not be told to ‘get over it’. People have to show you how to get over ‘it’, not just tell you to get over it.

We need there to be better responses to help this young woman.

Man, I feel inadequate in these situations. The shit some people have experienced defies belief.

It’s a difficult issue to address but Davis has committed himself to make it one of his priorities. He returned as a list MP last month when Shane Jones resigned.

Davis on Sexual Violence Prevention

Kelvin Davis has made it clear he wants to make an impact on  confronting violence when he returns to Parliament.

He is not an MP again yet, he has to wait until Shane Jones leaves Parliament, then he can take his Labour list place. But as soon as Davis found out he would be back he started speaking up against violence.

He has started boldly already, and says he wants to continue the momentum. He looks like doing that. This comment on his Facebook page.

I attended a hui today at Far North REAP, Kaitaia run by Russell Smith and Joy Te Wiata from Korowai Tumanako.

The purpose of the hui was to start to develop a sexual prevention initiative for the Far North.

Mike King was in attendance along with about 10 other invited guests. Marae Investigates attended and the story will air on TV1 this Sunday 10am. I will be a studio guest.

I made notes as I went, and the following are the notes practically verbatim.

  • 1 in 6 women will experience sexual violence.
  • For Maori women that rate will double.
  • Sexual violence is the number one contributing factor of youth suicide. (We look everywhere for the answers but can’t see or want to talk about this elephant in the room).
  • If we want to castrate, hang draw and quarter all offenders, what do we do with the 8 year old boy who is an offender? At what age do we start the death penalty?
  • We all want sexual abuse to end, but we don’t want to name it, it gets mixed in with domestic violence and other forms of violence. We need to call it what it is.
  • A story was told of a girl who went to a sleepover, and when “the lights went out” they started talking about sexual abuse. Of the 6 girls who were at the sleepover, 5 had been sexually abused. None had gone through the justice system, i.e. the abuse had not been addressed.
  • 90% of those who have been abused, DO NOT themselves abuse, but of those who do abuse, 90% had been abused themselves.
  • 95% of men who abuse male children, are hetrosexual. Homosexual men as overwhelmingly less likely to be sexual offenders.
  • Sexual abusers are not your down and out stereotypical monsters, they come from all walks of life and all professions and ethnicities.
  • Sex offenders can generally be rehabilitated – most but not all.
  • To be a “sex offender” there has to be an element of power or exploitation in the offending.
  • We should intervene at “every moment”, with young children they need to be aware their (exploratory) behaviour is inappropriate, and move the behaviour on.
  • Many people in a family may know of another person’s offending, but not know that other people also know, so they feel isolated.
  • 95% of people who are abused know the offender. Stranger danger is not the beast it is made out to be. (but still be aware it does occur, without being paranoid).
  • The characteristics of a “safe person” (e.g. honest, has values, transparent, can be trusted, caring, people person, known all your life, kind, loving, calm, not angry, etc) are the same characteristics of a perpetrator. That helps them to offend.
    People who are known offenders are less of a risk than unknown offenders. It’s the people we don’t know about who are the high risk.
  • If we want to know the answers, we need to talk to the people who cause the damage.

It was a bloody interesting hui with candid korero. To get an idea of what the hui was about, watch Marae on TV 1 this coming Sunday 10am.

Korowai Tumanako – “Inspiring Courage, Igniting Hope” – Sexual Violence Prevention 027 422 6282

We shouldn’t just applaud Kelvin for keeping the momentum going, we should help him build it.

A Simple Acknowledgement

Relevant to a topical issue is a blog account of a survivor of sexual assault. Sobering.

http://pantograph-punch.com/a-simple-acknowledgement/