Govt announces proposed changes under legislative review

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The Government has announced changes coming out of its legislative review of family violence.

The reforms include changes to the Domestic Violence Act, Care of Children Act, Sentencing Act, Bail Act, Crimes Act, Criminal Procedure Act and the Evidence Act.

Justice Minister Amy Adams and Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said the changes include:

  • "getting help to those in need without them having to go to court
  • ensuring all family violence is clearly identified and risk information is properly shared putting the safety of victims at the heart of bail decisions
  • creating three new offences of strangulation, coercion to marry and assault on a family member
  • making it easier to apply for a Protection Orders, allowing others to apply on a victim’s behalf, and better providing for the rights of children under Protection Orders
  • providing for supervised handovers and aligning Care of Children orders to the family violence regime
  • making evidence gathering in family violence cases easier for Police and less traumatic for victims
  • wider range of programmes able to be ordered when Protection Order imposed
  • making offending while on a Protection Order a specific aggravating factor in sentencing
  • enabling the setting of codes of practice across the sector."

Justice Minister Amy Adams said "These changes are the beginning of a new integrated system but on their own have the potential to significantly reduce family violence. Changes to protection orders and the new offences alone are expected to prevent about 2300 violent incidents each year."

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said "Legislation is part of but not the whole change required. These legislative reforms are designed to support and drive the change underpinning the wider work programme overseen by the Ministerial Group on Family and Sexual Violence. The work is about comprehensive and coordinated system change with a focus on early intervention and prevention."

The changes will cost $132 million over four years.

A Family Violence Bill to implement the changes is currently being drafted and will be introduced in the coming months. There will be an opportunity for public comment on details of the proposed law when the Bill is considered at Select Committee

The changes were announced by Prime Minister John Key, who gave a speech.

More details are available on the Ministry of Justice website, including Cabinet papers.

Green Party Spokesperson for Social Development Jan Logie has published a critique of the reforms.

Background information

Review of family violence laws: Government discussion document released