New report and webinar from Family Violence Death Review Committee: Men who use violence
Mon 04 May 2020
The Family Violence Death Review Committee has released their Sixth report | Te Pūrongo tuaono.
Men who use violence | Ngā tāne ka whakamahi i te whakarekereke provides an overview of the lives of 97 men who used violence against their intimate partners between 2009 and 2017, as captured in the Committee’s database.
The report intentionally focuses on missed opportunities to change the pattern of men’s development and the impact of these ineffective responses on their violent behaviour. It also focuses on structural changes needed to prevent family violence.
The Committee shares what they have learnt about the legacy of colonisation, trauma and inadequate service responses from looking at the lives of men whose violence resulted in a death.
Key issues addressed in the report include:
- Establishing an honest, equal Crown–Māori partnership to reduce family violence
- Designing services with an understanding of trauma and violence to support healthy development
- Upskilling the family violence sector to work with men (including Oranga Tamariki— Ministry for Children)
- Contracting for and evaluating support services
Under 'Upskilling the family violence sector', the Executive Summary says (p.17):
"Currently professionals receive little training to work with men who use violence. In a context where few community resources are available for men who want to stop using violence, professionals have very limited support for working with men. This report does not offer one, consistent story for the men it covers. Instead, it begins to address the lack of training and resourcing by setting out some key principles and findings to support agencies in working with men. These men come from different cultural backgrounds, with different experiences in childhood and during their development. However, all of them do have the capacity to move away from using violence (Table 8) when services:
- use strategies that recognise the relationship between structural and interpersonal violence
- focus on healthy masculine norms to promote behaviour change, responsibility and accountability
- reconnect men with positive forms of social support, including cultural reconnection and restoration15
- engage wider organisation structures, families, whānau and communities in the change process
- set an expectation that men as fathers can make a positive (rather than violent) contribution to the family environment
- address negative health and social factors, such as poor housing, lack of employment, and drug and alcohol abuse, while acknowledging that where a man has no experience of these factors, it does not rule out the possibility that he will use violence."
In her introduction, Committee Chair Professor Jane Koziol-McLain says:
"Through the work of the Committee, we see how underlying societal beliefs and assumptions about family violence maintain a pattern of inadequate responses. Demonising men who use violence and relying on criminal sanctions and individual-focused short-term interventions have not served us well. Rather than ‘repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results’,  the Committee aims to transform system responses to family violence by reframing how we think about it. We aim to nudge, prod and push systems to redirect or switch the pathways that lead to family violence so instead the systems lead to safety and wellbeing."
As well as considering the interaction between structural and interpersonal violence, the report also looks at the experience of partner violence among ethnic migrant communities in Aotearoa New Zealand, recognising that it is necessary to understand the context of men’s use of violence in order to adequately address that violence.
On Tuesday 5 May, the Family Violence Death Review Committee is presenting a webinar on the report, hosted by the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse. Places are still available. The webinar will also be recorded and made available online afterwards.
Victims should be front and centre in the response to men using violence (Professor Julia Tolmie, Auckland Law School, 27.05.2020)