Reaction to Family and Whanau Violence Bill

The Family and Whanau Violence Bill that was introduced into Parliament yesterday.

Family violence is a big issue. Violence not only affects the well being of adults and children in families, it has adverse flow on effects in health, education, crime, imprisonment rates and employment.

I can’t find any reaction from Labour.

Green MP Jan Logie in Stuff – Overhaul of family violence laws goes before Parliament:

Green Party women’s spokeswoman Jan Logie said the Government’s reforms were “an important first step”, but she still had concerns about inconsistencies in ensuring the safety of children.

Logie wanted the reinstatement of the Bristol clause, which would refuse abusive former partners access to their children until their safety was assured, and was also concerned about a lack of funding for support services like Women’s Refuge.

“If we’re going to be asking these organisations to do this extra service and they’re struggling to stay open and meet the demand, then it’s not going to work.”

Justice Minister Amy Adams…

…said the safety of children was an “absolutely paramount consideration” both in existing law and the family violence reforms.

“We’ve done a lot more in these reforms, but broadly speaking, the underlying rationale still remains, which…has always and continues to put the safety of children right at the forefront of decision-making.”

Then-Prime Minister John Key announced the overhaul last September…

…saying the Government would not “shy away” from tackling family violence.

“The challenge of reducing family violence lies with all of us, with the Government, the police, social agencies and with everyone who knows that violence is occurring.”

Police Commissioner:

At the time, the announcement was welcomed by Police Commissioner Mike Bush, who said being able to identify family violence offenders more easily would make it easier for police to provide support.

Women’s Refuge media release:

Women’s Refuge welcomes The Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill

The introduction of the much anticipated Family and Whānau violence legislation has been warmly welcomed by family violence organisation Women’s Refuge. The legislation introduced to parliament today places a far greater emphasis upon victim safety – a long overdue and applauded move. This change will see the justice sector required to place victim safety at the heart of much of their decision making, especially in to care of children and bail issues.

Women’s Refuge Chief Executive Dr Ang Jury says “we are very pleased to see the government has taken seriously the concerns and suggestions from those working at the coal face in crafting this comprehensive piece of family violence legislation; the strong emphasis on the safety of victims and their children is a great move”

Under the proposed legislation, processes around the granting and policing of Protection Orders by the Courts have been significantly strengthened. Information including risk factor information will now be made available to Police Districts when an Order is granted and breaches of Protection Orders will now be treated as aggravating factors at sentencing. In addition all bail applications before the Court must include careful consideration of victim safety.

“Incidents of family violence and abuse including breaches of Protection Orders are rarely isolated or ‘one off’ incidents, they are deliberate and frequently repeated. To see this reflected in the way the courts sentence is a significant step towards ensuring a victim’s safety is paramount”

Legislation changes will also include better recording and acknowledgement of family violence, better information sharing provisions between government and family violence agencies, the introduction of a code of practice across the sector, and the inclusion of new classes of offences. While Women’s Refuge has yet to see the details of all of these, they are positive about the proposed changes.

“We are pleased to see focused attention to strangulation and marriage by coercion with the introduction of these new offences. The inclusion of animal abuse in the new definition is also extremely pleasing as we know that threats of harm to pets are a frequent control tactic utilised by perpetrators; to see this explicitly recognised is a great step forward.”

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

Public good or political blood?

Winston Peters has started a chain of events that may uncover things that weren’t known or that weren’t being adequately dealt with. Some good may come of it. Or not.

In the meantime we’ve a got a political circus, where I doubt there is much though given to how to best help women and children who are the victims of family violence.Women’s Refuge is a major victim here.

We’ve got a political circus where tripping people up, hoping they’ll stumble, and trying to have them throw them off the high wire seems to be a primary aim.

Is the primary objective, of Peters and now the political opportunist bandwagon, to get some good out of this for Women’s Refuge staff and  women and children victims of family violence?

Or is it primarily an attempt to trash the Maori Party and destabilise government?

This looks to me like political abuse, political violence. With scant if any consideration to the women and children who are really hurting.

The real Women’s Refuge scandal

There’s a political fight going on at the moment that seems to be mostly about parties trying to score points and discredit opponents. This, sadly, is a typical political sideshow where parties point fingers and the public are pawns.

The real scandal that should be given far more attention is the disgraceful levels of underfunding of the Women’s refuges around the country.

It’s sad that we need refuges for women, but we do. They help women and children under severe stress. The Women’s Refuges themselves are under severe financial stress, and the staff have very stressfull jobs.

Politicians should focus on the real problems more.

Women’s Refuge: How we are funded

Women’s Refuge is a not-for-profit charitable organisation. Between 50 to 60 percent of our work is funded by government. The rest of our income is raised through fundraising, events, philanthropic trusts and bequests. We rely on generous donations from members of the public, businesses and other private funders and trusts to offer essential services that help women and children every day.

How you can lend a hand

Please, make a donation now to help us continue our important work preventing and stopping the abuse of women and children in our country.

About us

We are a women’s organisation for women and their children, here to help prevent and stop family violence in New Zealand.

If you are experiencing any form of abuse in your family or your relationship, or know someone who is, there are many ways we can help you – for free, and confidentially.

We’d love to help whether you have children or not. Women’s Refuge can:

  • talk to you if you’re worried about your safety in your relationship and help you make a Safety Plan
  • provide a safe place to go to if you need help urgently
  • help you stand up for your needs whether or not you are thinking about leaving.

We are an independent, bicultural community organisation and have support services designed especially for children, young people, Māori women, Pasefika women and migrant and refugee women. We also assist lesbian women, older women and women with disabilities.

You can contact us at Women’s Refuge to get help and advice about talking to friends or family members you worry are being abused emotionally, physically, sexually, spiritually or financially.

And there’s a good case for some sort of men’s refuge facilities too.