Government announces "suite of initiatives" to address family violence

Image: iStock

The Government today announced "a suite of intitiatives" in the Justice sector and the development of Achieving Intergenerational Change – A whole-of-Government approach to address family violence.

The Government also released the report of the Expert Advisory Group formed in 2013 and the government's response.

Justice Minister Judith Collins and Police and Corrections Minister Anne Tolley announced they have identified four key Justice sector action areas: to better protect victims of family violence; improve victims’ experience in the justice system; support judicial decision-making in cases involving domestic violence; and ensure domestic violence legislation is modern and fit for purpose.

Their proposals to help achieve these include:

  • "Establishing a Chief Victims Advisor to the Minister of Justice to advise on the needs and views of victims of crime, including domestic violence victims.
  • Testing an intensive case management service to provide specialist support for domestic violence victims at high risk of serious harm or death. 
  • Establishing a nationwide home safety service to help victims who want to leave a violent relationship. The service will offer practical support such as safety planning, strengthening doors and windows and installing alarms.
  • Reviewing the Domestic Violence Act 1995 to ensure it keeps victims safe and holds offenders to account.
  • Exploring the possibility of a conviction disclosure scheme, which may allow a person to be told whether their partner has a history of violence.
  • Trialling mobile safety alarms with GPS technology for victims, so they can notify Police of an emergency, and their location.
  • Introduce legislation to change the Sentencing Act, which will allow courts to stipulate GPS monitoring of high-risk domestic violence offenders who can’t currently have this condition imposed upon them."

Associate Minister for Social Development Tariana Turia also announced Achieving Intergenerational Change – A whole-of-Government approach to preventing family violence.

Prime Minister John Key said, "Mrs Turia is building on the work of the Expert Advisory Group to develop a comprehensive, long-term approach to break the cycle of family violence. This work focuses on changing attitudes and behaviours towards family violence, and on early interventions for drug and alcohol addiction."

The Family Violence Death Review Committee (FVDRC) welcomed the trial of an intensive case management service for family violence victims at risk of serious harm or death.

The FVDRC also said it supports the trial of mobile safety alarms with GPS technology, so victims can alert police to their location in an emergency and the introduction of legislation to change the Sentencing Act, which will allow courts to stipulate GPS monitoring of high-risk domestic violence offenders who can’t currently have this condition imposed upon them.

Women’s Refuge said it supported the Prime Minister taking a stand on domestic violence, however it was concerned that the initiatives he proposed would still not address the 'epidemic' of domestic violence. Chief Executive Heather Henare said,

"We look forward to hearing the details of these initiatives especially around the Justice Sector announcements today. We had no warning or consultation around the shape of these, therefore from what little we have seen we have some concerns that these initiatives are geared towards the 18% of victims who report domestic violence to the police and the 5% who take up a Protection Order. We fail to see how this response today addresses the 80% of domestic violence that remains unreported to the Justice Sector."

This page will be updated with further links to media and responses to the announcements.

Updates:

Shine welcomed the Justice sector announcements. Chief Executive Jane Drumm said, "If we can do something for people who are at extreme risk, then we can make an enormous impact on the domestic abuse problem in this country. All of these new Government measures are aimed at addressing those victims in terrifying, high-risk situations."

Labour Justice spokesperson Andrew Little said establishing another advisor (the Chief Victims Advisor) was putting the resources in the wrong places. Labour will announce its policy for dealing with domestic violence on Friday.

Media:

We're not there yet, says Glenn, NZ Herald, 16.07.2014

Glenn urges more anti-violence measures, Stuff, 15.07.2014

Rape case shakeup on the cards this election, NZ Herald, 10.07.2014

Victims at heart of family violence response, NZ Police, 04.07.2014

HRC welcomes Govt initiatives to address family violence, Voxy, 04.07.2014

The Govt's 9.4 million dollar family violence package, Nine to Noon, Radio NZ, 03.07.2014

Criticism of family violence package, Radio NZ, 03.07.2014

Doubts over breadth of new moves against domestic violence, NewstalkZB, 03.07.2014

Justice Measures Useful Step Says Inquiry, Media release: Glenn Inquiry, 02.07.2014

Victims should be at centre of domestic violence measures, Media release: Andrew Little, 02.07.2014

Government's anti-violence policy stirs debate, TV3, 02.07.2014

New family violence measures 'a validation for victims', Voxy, 02.07.2014

Committee welcomes new initiatives, Press Release: Family Violence Death Review Committee, Scoop, 02.07.2014

Women’s Refuge - Initiatives Against Family Violence, Press release: Women’s Refuge, Scoop, 02.07.2014

Govt to test GPS alarms for domestic abuse victims, Stuff, 02.07.2014

Sexual crime law change mooted, Stuff, 02.07.2014

From the Beehive:

Prime Minister addresses family violence, Beehive: John Key, 02.07.2014

Government welcomes report on family violence, Beehive: Tariana Turia, 02.07.2014

Breaking the family violence cycle, Beehive: Tariana Turia, 02.07.2014 

Chief Victims Advisor underpins package to prevent family violence, Beehive: Judith Collins and Anne Tolley, 02.07.2014