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.
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.
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 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.