Budget 2020: Funding for family violence services
Mon 11 May 2020
The Government has announced funding in Budget 2020 to stabilise New Zealand’s family violence services.
The funding announced is:
- $183.0 million over the next four years for the Ministry of Social Development to ensure continued access to specialist family violence services, including:
- Services supporting victims of family violence ($142.0 million)
- Services to help perpetrators to stop inflicting family violence ($16.0 million), and
- Support for victims of elder abuse ($25.0 million) and
- A cross-agency initiative with Police, Justice and Health to ensure victims of non-fatal strangulation can access highly trained medical practitioners, trained to deal with the trauma and for forensic services necessary to gather the robust evidence needed to prosecute offenders ($19.9 million)
The Beehive release and summary of initiatives says the funding seeks to address cost pressures for specialist family violence providers. This includes "providing for more competitive wages for staff so that the sector has a more solid foundation for engaging, supporting and retaining their workforces. It also provides for funding allowances for training, supervision, management and organisational costs."
This includes funding for services by Māori for Māori, and for migrant and refugee communities.
Commenting on the importance of these services throughout the COVID-19 lockdown, Jan Logie, Under-Secretary to the Minister of Justice (Domestic and Sexual Violence Issues) said “Refuges, helplines, crisis services and many other organisations sit at the heart of our response to families who are experiencing violence. At a time of national crisis we have never needed them more. We know this crisis has increased pressure to New Zealand families and that more victims are isolated. It’s right that we respond properly to this.”
The bulk of the funding sits with the Ministry of Social Development.
The funding for responses to non-fatal strangulation goes to Police, Justice and Health so victims can access a specialist clinical response and that the perpetrator can be held to account in the Justice system.
The Government will deliver Budget 2020 on Thursday 14 May.
The May 2020 Family violence and sexual violence work programme update also provides summary information about Budget 2020.
This funding is additional to the $27 million new funding the Government announced on 26 March 2020 so essential social services could keep delivering for communities through COVID-19.
There is lots of information on responding to family, whānau and sexual violence during COVID-19 on the Clearinghouse website. The COVID-19 section is updated daily.
Non-fatal strangulation or suffocation was made a specific offence on 3 December 2018. The Ministry of Justice provides data on strangulation/suffocation charges and convictions to December 2019 (click on 'Offences related to family violence'). The spreadsheet notes:
"Extreme caution should be taken when interpreting charge outcome data for these new offences as only the charges finalised in the first 13 months following their introduction are shown. This data is still unstable as many charges filed for these offences had not been finalised by 31 December 2019; they were awaiting a trial and charge outcome, or sentencing. As such, these figures do not represent the expected distribution of charge outcomes, which will be observed once more charges have been finalised."