Briefings to Incoming Ministers outline key issues for family violence and sexual violence

Wed 28 Feb 2024

Briefings to Incoming Ministers (BIMs) have been released following the general election held in 2023 and the formation of the National-Act-NZ First Coalition Government.

Briefings to Incoming Ministers outline key issues

The Briefing to the Incoming Minister (BIM) reports are formal documents that government agencies provide to new ministers when they take up a portfolio. BIMs are prepared by government officials on behalf of government agencies, however non-government organisations can also prepare briefings for new ministers.

Te Puna Aonui BIMs

The Joint Venture was formed in 2018 to improve the whole-of-government approach to family Violence and sexual violence. In 2022, the Joint Venture became Te Puna Aonui, an Interdepartmental Executive Board under the Public Service Act 2020. Te Puna Aonui describes the collective of government agencies, the Board, and the team working in the business unit. They have prepared a briefing to the Minister for the Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence, Karen Chhour.

BIMs for the agencies that are part of Te Puna Aonui:

BIMs for Te Puna Aonui associate agencies and other government agencies:

Te Pūkotahitanga BIM

Te Pūkotahitanga is the Tangata Whenua Ministerial Advisory Group appointed in June 2022 to provide independent advice on the implementation of Te Aorerekura – the National Strategy to Eliminate Family Violence and Sexual Violence.

In Te Pūkotahitanga's briefing to the Minister for the Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence they outline:

  • "What has contributed to the current turning point that we are at,
  • Where actions must match the intent of Te Aorerekura,
  • How a collective approach and partnership will transform outcomes,
  • Why we collectively must choose to take the opportunity to do what must be done to improve the inequities amongst Māori."

Police BIM prompts reponse from concerned sector advocates

Included in the NZ Police Briefing to the Incoming Minister, Mark Mitchell, is a statement about the way in which responding to social harm (including family harm and mental health crisis) is “displacing [Police] focus on traditional visible policing.” Included in a list of four key areas identified as key opportunities to improve Police outcomes was:

“Supporting Police to re-focus on our core business and away from ‘expanded’ activities, particularly in the social domain, by supporting managed withdrawal and advocating for that role to be filled by others. For example, reducing Police’s role in mental health crisis response is a clear opportunity, as is right sizing our response to family harm.” (see page 9)

The BIM also outlined a six-month proof of concept (POC) that ended in June 2023 aimed at improving response rates for “...non-urgent (priority two and below) family harm events.” The POC trialled a phone-based triage service to “...provide timely risk assessment of further harm and help identify the appropriate support required” (page 29).

Following the publication of the Police BIM, a number of sector advocates have raised concerns about the possibility of Police reducing their role in responding to family violence call outs.

In comments made to RNZ, Women's Refuge chief executive Ang Jury said that "People don't invite police around just because they feel like a visit. They invite them around because they're scared." Jury also raised concerns about plans to extend the phone-based triaging service, commenting that "Family violence victims, will often underplay what it is that's happening for a variety of reasons and they may not necessarily be providing enough information for that call taker to triage effectively".

In a media statement responding to the release of the Police BIM, Dr Bonnie Robinson, CEO Presbyterian Support Northern which provides Shine family violence response service, said:

“Police are the only agency that has the authority to arrest and detain someone or de-escalate the situation and so potentially, they help protect children at the address as well.

Family violence is a huge issue for New Zealand and it’s important that we as a society address it effectively.

It’s difficult to see how the role of the Police could be filled by others as the Police suggest. Family violence happens 24/7 all year round. We can’t think of any other service that can fill that Police function without substantial investment and training. Let’s not forget, some women lose their lives to family violence every year. By being on the scene, Police are best placed to react, especially if they know how long the situation has been going on for or past history of the address.”

Legal academics Julie Tolmie and Carrie Leonetti have also raised concerns. See further commentary in the related media below. 

Other BIMs

Update:  The Backbone Collective has published their briefing to the incoming Justice Minister.

Update:  In a new initiative, the Chief Justice with the agreement of the Attorney-General, has released an introductory memorandum provided to the Attorney-General on her appointment of her new role. The memorandum covers matters that require early attention, matters already in train with the government or Ministry, work underway to address delay and modernise the courts, risks to court operations, and appointments. See the Memorandum for incoming Attorney-General 2024.

Update: The National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuges BIM is available.

The Te Pai Ora o Aotearoa | Social Service Providers BIM calls for action on increased funding and investment, a sustainable and thriving workforce, and a revitalised role for community-based social services.

The He Manaakitanga Kaumātua Aotearoa | Age Concern New Zealand BIM calls on the government to prioritise action on five critical areas including elder abuse services and prevention.

Netsafe is New Zealand’s independent, non-profit online safety charity. Netsafe have prepared briefings for incoming ministers across a range of portfolios including Internal Affairs, Justice, Education, Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Health, Media and Communications, Regulation, Science Innovation and Technology, the Attorney General, Māori Development, and Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The New Zealand Law Society Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa has also published its Briefing to the Incoming Minister for Justice.

Related Media

Did we just decriminalise family violence?, The Spinoff, 27.02.2024

What do we mean when we say ‘family violence’?, Newsroom, 16.02.2024

Advocates warn more resources needed if police pull back from mental heath callouts, RNZ, 14.02.2024

Health bosses seeking solution as police look to change emergency response model, NZ Herald, 14.02.2024

Concern over police plans for a managed withdrawal from family harm callouts, Shine Media Statement, 12.02.2024

Concern over police plans to pull back from family harm callouts, RNZ, 12.02.2024

Concern over police plans to pull back from family harm callouts, RNZ, Morning Report Audio, 12.02.2024

Police outline plans for mental distress call-outs, RNZ, Morning Report Audio, 13.02.2024

Mental health option could be added when people call 111, minister says, RNZ, 12.02.2024

Kaupapa Māori delivery helping mental heath, Waatea News, 14.02.2024

Online bullying, cyber abuse: Dramatic increase in stalking, harassment, Netsafe asks new Govt ministers for help, NZ Herald, 02.02.2024

Police may step back from responding to family harm, mental health callouts - briefing paper, RNZ, 01.02.2024

New briefings to incoming ministers bring bold challenges for Government about state of NZ, NZ Herald, 01.02.2024

Ministry of Social Development: Rising number of Kiwis on benefit and further increases predicted, NZ Herald, 01.02.2024

Corrections Minister Mark Mitchell briefed about increasing number of prisoners with ‘extremist views’, NZ Herald, 01.02.2024

Cross Party Commitment Critical In New Government Reducing Sexual Violence, Scoop, 18.12.2023

Victims of crime don’t feel heard; here’s what we can do about that, The Post, 08.12.2023

Image: Wesley Tingey for Unsplash

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