MOJ launches new role and recruitment for 50 Kaiārahi - Family Court Navigators


Thu 11 Mar 2021

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has announced a new role for the Family Court. Recruitment has started for this role across the country.

MOJ has started recruitment for 50 Kaiārahi - Family Court Navigators across the country. The role is part of the Strengthening the Family Court initiatives, announced in Budget 2020.

According to the MOJ media release, "Kaiārahi – Family Court Navigators will provide guidance and information about the resolution/support options available to parents, caregivers and whānau who are considering applying to the Family Court."

MOJ Manager Justice Services – Family Robert Loo said:

“The Kaiārahi – Family Court Navigators will aim to improve family justice outcomes for parents, whānau and tamariki by empowering families to make informed decisions on appropriate justice pathways and how to access them. They’ll also provide information about how to engage with the court for legal matters or how to access out-of-court services.” 

MOJ has begun recruiting for the roles. You can find the roles on the MOJ Careers Centre.

The job listings on the MOJ Careers Centre note the skills and experience required:

"We are looking for people who reflect the community we are serving in and who can effectively assist Tāhū o te Ture in honouring our commitment to Māori. Your experience working with community groups and a wide range of socio-economic family situations is important to successfully implementing this new service.  A full driver's licence is also required.

Key skills and experience include:

*Experience working with community groups/high level of community involvement

*Experience reflecting the diversity in community you are working in

*Experience working with parents and whānau

*Excellent relationship management skills

*A high level of comfort working with Whānau, Hapū and Iwi

*Knowledge of Tikanga Māori and some fluency in Te Reo Māori is desirable, as is a willingness to learn

*Ability to be flexible, adaptable and pragmatic

*Time management skills"

More details about the responsibilities of the role and required experience are included in the detailed job descriptions on the MOJ Careers Centre website.

Update - new CEDAW report released

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (the Committee) has just released its assessment of New Zealand’s progress in implementing recommendations made following the conclusion of the 2018 reporting cycle. 

The New Zealand government is required to report to the Committee every four years on New Zealand's progress implementing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). 

The last reporting cycle was completed in 2018. At the end of the process, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women published Concluding Observations on New Zealand's 8th CEDAW report. The Committee requested the NZ government provide, within two years, written information on the steps taken to implement several of the recommendations on key concerns from its Concluding Observations (CEDAW/C/NZL/CO/8, see paragraph 55), instead of waiting the usual four years.

Included amongst a number of specific recommendations was that the government:

"Establish a royal commission of inquiry with an independent mandate to engage in wide-ranging evaluation of the drawbacks for women, the obstruction of justice for women and the hindrances to their safety inherent in the family court system and to recommend the legislative and structural changes necessary to make the family courts safe and just for women and children, in particular in situations of domestic violence;" 

In August 2020, the Government published follow up information to CEDAW responding to this request. 

This latest report finds that although the New Zealand government has made progress in addressing some of the concerns raised by the Committee in the 2018 CEDAW report, the decision on the part of the New Zealand government not to establish a royal commission of inquiry into the family court system means that the Committee considers the quality of information provided to be “unsatisfactory”. They comment that:

"the Committee regrets that the State party decided to appoint a Panel rather than to establish a royal commission of inquiry to adequately address the root causes of the systemic lack of trust and insensitivity towards women who are victims of domestic violence. Furthermore, the Committee is concerned that the issue of safety for women who come to family court for domestic violence was not included. 

The Committee considers that the State party did not take sufficient steps to implement the recommendation. It considers that the recommendation has not been implemented. The Committee notes that the information provided by the State party is incomplete and fails to respond fully to the recommendation. It thus considers that the quality of the information provided is unsatisfactory."

Related news

NZ Law Society Continuing Legal Education is hosting a forum on Family Violence Dynamics in May 2021. Featured speakers include Julia Tolmie, Elisabeth McDonald, Ayesha Scott, Denise Wilson, Justice Matthew Palmer, Jon Everest and Bridgette Toy-Cronin. The note from the Chair, Julia Tolmie, states:

"Lawyers may find themselves acting for those using or experiencing family violence in a wide range of legal contexts and in relation to a range of legal issues. The demands on lawyers in relation to this complex and specialised issue are changing. For example, judges are receiving training on family violence dynamics and the District Court in its criminal jurisdiction is modifying a traditional adversarial approach by seeking to include innovations from the solution-focussed courts. In this forum, experts will provide you with the most up to date understandings around family violence, as well as discussing a range of recent developments and possibilities in the context of criminal law, family law and tenancy law."

The forum is for lawyers working in criminal, family and employment law.

In the NZ Law Society Weekly email (Issue 232) it was announced that a new process has been agreed with the Heads of Bench for lawyers to raise concerns about conduct in court by judges with the Law Society through an informal process. For more information see the Law Society information on Bullying and harassment in the legal profession and the judicial protocol.

In February 2021 the Australian government passed legislation merging the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. More than 155 stakeholders across Australia including Women’s Legal Services Australia, Community Legal Centres, the Law Council of Australia, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and AWAVA (Australian Women Against Violence Alliance) have opposed the decision, stating:

"There is much more evidence to support the damage that will be done by the merger, including harm to families and people experiencing family violence. The Government and new Court will be under heavy scrutiny to deliver court efficiency, resolve 8,000 additional cases, reduce costs, reduce the time separating families will spend before the court and reduce delays, even allowing for the impact of COVID-19."

Related media

Judges avoid censure in complaints system, Newsroom 28.04.2021

Family Court failings, Gisborne Herald, 28.04.2021

Calls for compensation, training, specialist response, Gisborne Herald, 28.04.2021

The Justice Sector’s Contribution to the Government’s Wellbeing Agenda, Speech from Minister for Courts, Aupito William Sio, 27.04.2021

How will the courts and Jacinda Ardern's Government respond to a justice system inflicting harm on domestic violence victims like Mrs P?, Stuff, 24.04.2021

'She was failed': Experts call for investigation into case of 'Mrs P', Stuff, 22.04.2021

Mrs P shouldn't be made a victim again, Stuff, 20.04.2021

The terrible story of Mrs P: Cruel injustice compounded by arbitrary, unkind response, The Spinoff, 19.04.2021

No compensation for abuse victim's wrongful conviction - minister, Stuff, 16.04.2021

Family violence court cases: How a vital ingredient is missing, Stuff, 16.04.2021

Abused wife condemned by judge, then wrongly convicted of perjury, Newsroom, 15.04.2021

The court said she was lying about being abused. She did a year on home detention. She wasn't lying, Stuff, 15.04.2021

Stalemate: New Zealand rejects UN over Family Court review, Stuff, 26.03.2021

He had a QC, she couldn't afford a lawyer. Is that justice?, Stuff, 22.03.2021

They can't win: How an old idea about women puts them in danger, Stuff, 20.03.2021

United Nations gives New Zealand a 'fail' grade in Family Court review, Stuff, 11.03.2021

Update on Te Ao Mārama, Law Society news, 18.02.2021

Legal experts fear for domestic violence victims with Family Court changes, The New Daily [Australia], 18.02.2021

Family Court merger set to pass parliament, The Canberra Times [Australia], 16.02.2021

Image: Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash

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