Government releases Expert Advisory Group report and its response

Image: Scott Maxwell

The Government has released the report of the Expert Advisory Group (EAG) on family violence, along with the Government's response.

The Expert Advisory Group (EAG) met twice in October and November 2013 at the invitation of Associate Social Development Minister Tariana Turia.

The EAG was asked to:

  • Identify opportunities to build and apply knowledge of what works nationally and internationally to address and prevent family violence
  • Encourage an evidence-based and practice informed perspective to influencing behavioural change
  • Consider work undertaken to date, and
  • Inform the development of an action-oriented approach for the Government to address family violence.

The report of the Expert Advisory Group says,

"2 Family violence is the product of many complex and interconnected issues and the response to it needs to be equally complex and interconnected. Family violence is often framed as an individual’s problem (‘the victim’/’the perpetrator’). The EAG rejects this simplistic analysis. Family violence has multiple causes and manifestations.

3 However the EAG’s brief was to work with in a very constrained timeframe. In the time it had, the EAG could not possibly give proper consideration to all of the elements that make up aspects of family violence; instead the EAG adopted a high level approach.

4 Its vision is for all families in New Zealand – and the EAG defines ‘family/whānau/kāiga’ in the broadest and most inclusive way – to be free from violence. To achieve that it recommends an integrated response from all of Government working with the community.

5 Taken together the EAG’s recommendations call for a sharper policy focus and a different approach. The EAG supports change from the bottom up AND from the top down."

The EAG’s key recommendations are listed below, grouped into three broad areas. The full report provides further detail.

Structural reform

8 To maximise the prospect of reducing the rate of family violence and dealing more effectively with victims and perpetrators of family violence the current systems and structures need to change. This is part of the ‘top down’ reform required. The EAG recommends:

8.1. that the Government pass new legislation (the Prevention of and Protection From Family Violence Act) reflecting the view of the Government and the community that family violence/domestic violence in all its forms is unacceptable and is an intolerable violation of human rights

8.2. that the prevention of and response to family violence be a stated Government priority, with two Cabinet Ministers sharing responsibility and with one of those Ministers being the Minister of Finance

8.3. that the new legislation requires Government departments to work together in an integrated way and working alongside the community, using a community development approach, to prevent family violence and protect those either at risk from family violence or affected by it. This includes ensuring Chief Executives are accountable for agreed outcomes. The new legislation should mandate those recommendations of the EAG which are adopted

8.4. that a Family Violence Oversight Committee be formed of all relevant Chief Executives (or officials with delegated authority) and that this Committee be required to ensure Government departments’ work programmes align through annual plans and agreed objectives

8.5. that the new legislation recognises (and any existing legislation be amended to recognise) the differing needs of all victims and perpetrators (Pākehā, Māori, Pacific, and other ethnicities or distinct communities such as the disabled, migrant or refugee populations, the elderly). The new legislation should also reflect New Zealand’s obligations under the United Nations Conventions on the Right of the Child and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

8.6. that the prevention of family violence is a whole of Government responsibility, but that within that the Ministry of Education has a key role to play in primary prevention

8.7. that the Privacy Act 1993 be amended to allow sharing of information in relation to family violence or the risk of family violence.

Research/information management

9 An integrated multi-disciplinary approach relies on good information, consistent definitions and information management. The EAG recommends:

9.1. that a Family Violence Research Hub be established to collate data, evaluate programmes and share information

9.2. that the Government commission, as a matter of urgency, a ‘map the gaps’ stock-take to evaluate where service delivery gaps exist (both geographical and type of service). Part of the focus of this stock-take needs to look at the gaps in service for minority groups such as Māori, Pacific, the Disabled and the Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Transgender and Intersex (GLBTI) communities

9.3. that Government commission, as a companion to the ‘map the gap’ stocktake, a review of what family violence programmes or initiatives are already working well. Are there common characteristics? What can be replicated and what can’t?

9.4. that all Government agencies and community providers use standardised risk assessment tools to categorise risk and dangerousness to ensure consistency and safety

9.5. that all reports of the Family Violence Death Review Committee be published in an abridged form that protects the identity of the victims but focuses on systems and practices. Where are the gaps? What are the lessons?

Streamlined service delivery, efficiency and partnerships

10 There needs to be a streamlining of service delivery through collaboration and partnerships that place victims and perpetrators at the core, with a view towards enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of the programmes and initiatives offered.

11 There are two distinct streams of services and initiatives:

1. prevention of family violence, and

2. responses to and protection from family violence (covering a continuum of circumstances, including high risk responses and post-trauma recovery).

12 The EAG recommends:

12.1. that services should be available throughout the country across the response continuum from primary prevention, through to crisis services, to those supporting the rebuilding of lives. As a consequence of the stock-takes, recommended above, funding for the family violence sector should be allocated so that services across the whole country are adequately resourced and community providers are supported

12.2. that primary prevention and core crises response services need to be adequately and sustainably resourced with multi-year budgets. Funding should be tied to a family violence capability framework. Nationally consistent standards and processes are required

12.3. that across all agencies and disciplines on-going training and up-skilling is required to ensure that family violence (in all its iterations) is detected and responded to effectively and safely. This is to include training in cultural competency. The EAG wants professionals and others working in the sector to have the skills to competently ‘join the dots’ when presented with evidence of violence or abuse

12.4. that one size does not fit all and communities are best suited to develop the initiatives that will work for their members/whānau/kāinga

12.5. that to assist integration and collaboration across agencies the position of National  Family Violence Network Coordinator be established, with a supporting Secretariat, to oversee the integration of Government and community provision of primary prevention programmes and response services and the implementation of national codes of practice

12.6. that the number of Regional Family Violence Network Coordinators with reach into the communities in which they live be increased and their role strengthened. The EAG recommends each region (yet to be defined) should have two Regional Family Violence Network Coordinators; one to coordinate primary prevention services and the second to coordinate response services. These coordinators need to be properly funded and properly paid

12.7. that national standards and accreditation processes for family violence programmes be developed that ensure that programmes are run in accordance with international best practice

13 In the area of primary prevention the EAG recommends:

13.1. an on-going commitment to national education/social marketing campaigns aimed at changing attitudes to family violence (in collaboration with community run projects), and

13.2. closer coordination between the Ministries of Education, Health and Social Development to lead and/or support prevention initiatives.

14 In the area of crisis response to family violence the EAG recommends:

14.1. that a national multi-agency case management process be developed for high risk cases.

The Government's response to the recommendations includes the following:

  • The Government does not consider there is a need for new legislation.
  • The Government does not consider any change in Ministerial responsibility for family violence is required at this time.
  • The Government considers that the Social Sector Forum provides a forum for joined-up accountability across responsible Chief Executives and cross-agency co-ordination.
  • The Government considers that the Families Commission, through the Social Policy and Research Unit (SuPERU), is the appropriate place to work towards achieving the intent of the recommendation to establish a Family Violence Research Hub to collate data, evaluate programmes and share information.
  • The Government recognises that there is a need for more clarity surrounding services and funding within the family violence sector. The Government has directed officials to undertake a stocktake of current initiatives and government spend in the area of family violence, including an analysis of the results to date and advice on what initiatives have proven (or not proven) to be effective.
  • The Government recognises the importance of using standardised risk assessment tools. Work to develop a standardised risk assessment framework is under consideration as part of a whole-of-government approach to addressing family violence. This would align evidence-based risk assessment tools to ensure consistency in addressing family violence cases across government agencies and service providers.
  • The Government recognises a skilled workforce is fundamental in order to detect and respond to family violence. Training to respond to family violence is currently provided within specific areas such as the Violence Intervention Programme and within the E Tu Whānau and Pasefika Proud programmes. The Government is considering workforce training as part of a whole-of-government approach to addressing family violence.
  • The Government acknowledges the contribution of the family violence prevention network co-ordinators but does not intend to appoint a National Family Violence Network Co-ordinator at this time.
  • The Government has an on-going commitment to national education/social marketing campaigns through its on-going commitment to the It’s not OK campaign.

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

Media:

Home violence failure MP's departing regret, Wanganui Chronicle, 03.11.2014

Purse should match policy on family violence, Waatea News, 31.10.2014

Turia: Women’s Refuge Conference 2014 (speech), Scoop, 31.10.2014

From the Beehive:

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

Previous NZFVC news stories:

Survey to inform new Expert Advisory Group - extended until Wednesday 16 October, 09.10.13

New Expert Advisory Group on family violence announced, 01.10.13

Image: 3D Bar Graph Meeting by Scott Maxwell Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)