First Glenn Inquiry report released

Image: iStock

The Glenn Inquiry has released its first report, which records the experiences of the Inquiry's approximately 500 participants. The participants include "women and men who grew up living with child abuse and neglect, sexual abuse and/or domestic violence; victims and perpetrators of domestic violence; those working at the frontline with child abuse and domestic violence; and those interested in addressing child abuse and domestic violence in New Zealand." Partipants working in the areas of child abuse and domestic violence include government agencies, non-government organisations, community providers, interested groups, professionals, policymakers, community workers, advocates, and support people.

The People's report: The People’s Inquiry into Addressing Child Abuse and Domestic Violence 2014 was written by Denise Wilson and Melinda Webber.

The report says,

"Most people told the Inquiry that New Zealand’s current system for addressing child abuse and domestic violence is generally not working. Sometimes the things that were meant to help didn’t – they just made it worse. People talked extensively about the amount of time they spent navigating the ins and outs of ‘the system’, making it difficult to become, or stay, safe which left little time for ‘healing’.

"Key aspects of the system that people said are not working well include:

  • Seeking help is exceptionally difficult for victims, and can force them to remain in or return to a violent relationship. If they do manage to leave, they are often faced with increased risk to their safety, as well as a life of poverty and desperation.
  • People, especially victims, are faced by frontline workers and people around them whose attitudes and behaviours expose them to further abuse and trauma. Victims are generally not believed, and perpetrators’ manipulative behaviours mean that they remain unaccountable for their abuse and violence.
  • Inter-agency collaboration, communication and information-sharing were key areas that government, non-government and community services and agencies need to improve.
  • Those affected by child abuse and domestic violence had no genuine right of redress, as their complaints and questions about the quality of the services they received often went unheard or unaddressed.
  • The court system and those working within it (judges, lawyers and psychologists) are part of a system that is dysfunctional and mostly not working. Unprofessional behaviour, poor communication and documentation, confrontational court processes, and protection orders that are not being enforced are examples of areas where the courts are not performing well.
  • Insensitive and judgmental staff, poor communication and documentation, and lack of collaboration with other agencies and community organisations were evident in Child Youth and Family and Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) practices.
  • New Zealand’s public, professionals and frontline workers generally lack knowledge about child abuse and domestic violence.
  • The majority of people expressed concern about New Zealand’s binge drinking culture and its contribution to child abuse and domestic violence."

The report states,

"Within the context of child abuse and domestic violence, one of the most striking things across most people’s stories is the overwhelming agreement that the court system is 'dysfunctional' and 'broken.' A wide range of people had something to say about the court system – victims, perpetrators, those working within it, and other supporting agencies and services interacting with the courts. Those who spoke to the Inquiry about the court system generally referred to the Family, District and High Courts together, and more specifically about the Family Court. Rather than help sort out their safety and other related issues, the courts were perceived as the cause of added burdens for those living and working with child abuse and domestic violence."

The report acknowledges that further work is required to better understand, for example, the experiences and realities of those affected by child abuse and domestic violence who also have disabilities, are Pacific or Asian, are associated with gangs, or are in same-sex relationships.

The report does not contain formal recommendations: the second stage of the Inquiry's work will be a Blueprint that will "constitute a new model for addressing child abuse and domestic violence." This will be released later in 2014.

A range of responses to the report are available at the media links below.

Previous New Zealand reports focusing on the voices of victim/survivors of domestic and family violence include:

Protecting victims: Rebuilding lives: Sending the right message: A discussion paper written by survivors of domestic violence (2010) by It's STILL Not Ok!

Living at the cutting edge: Women's experiences of protection orders: Volume 1: The women's stories and Volume 2 : What's to be done? A critical analysis of statutory and practice approaches to domestic violence (2007) by Neville Robertson and others, University of Waikato

Free from abuse: What women say and what can be done (2002) by Jennifer Hand and others, Auckland Healthcare, Public Health Promotion Unit

Media

Report got it right: refuge manager, Waikato Times, 18.06.2014

Editorial: Glenn report's burden of proof change a step too far, NZ Herald, 18.06.2014

'No excuse for not working together' on domestic violence, Scoop, 17.06.2014

No shift of burden of proof – Govt, Radio NZ, 17.06.2014

Major overhaul needed to reduce domestic violence and child abuse, Māori TV, 17.06.2014

Maori Party backing call to overhaul the justice system, Voxy, 17.06.2014

The first report of the Glenn Inquiry into Family Violence, Nine to Noon, Radio NZ, 17.06.2014

Glenn inquiry: Bid to mend 'broken' court system, NZ Herald, 17.06.2014

Colonisation a 'factor' in abuse report, Radio NZ, 17.06.2014

Advocates slate report, Radio NZ, 17.06.2014

Backer of child abuse inquiry responds to criticism, Radio NZ, 17.06.2014

Former Family Court judge comments on Glenn Inquiry report, Radio NZ, 17.06.2014

Statement on the release of The People’s Report from the Glenn Inquiry, Women's Refuge, 16.06.2014

'Meaningful action needed' on child abuse and domestic violence, Families Commission, 16.06.2014

Violence 'NZ's biggest human rights issue', Voxy, 16.06.2014

Family violence inquiry labels courts a hazard, Radio NZ, 16.06.2014

Labour and Greens blame govt, Radio NZ, 16.06.2014

Lawyer backs Glenn Inquiry criticism of courts, Radio NZ, 16.06.2014

Harrowing testimony from survivors of violence, Radio NZ, 16.06.2014

Courts need overhaul to cure 'sickness of society', NZ Herald, 16.06.2014

Tag all family abusers: Judge, Stuff, 15.06.2014

Owen Glenn to be absent at report release, NZ Herald, 15.06.2014