Pilots for support of sexual violence survivors in criminal justice system

Image: Rémi Walle on Unsplash

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced a new pilot to support sexual violence survivors going through the criminal justice system.

The pilot will provide psycho-social support leading up to, during and after the criminal justice process. It will be piloted in Auckland, with Auckland Sexual Abuse HELP Foundation providing the support services. Auckland also currently has a Specialist Sexual Violence Court pilot operating.

The Ministry of Social Development, which is leading the initiative, has provided information about the pilot including the type of support that could be available:

  • "therapeutic social work
  • preparing the victim/survivor before trial, during, and follow up support afterward
  • in-person support for Police processes and to prepare for cross-examination
  • support through pre-trial viewing of Evidential Video Interview (EVI)
  • assist with Victim Impact Statements
  • provide support at trial, sentencing and probation reviews
  • liaising with court staff and Victim Advisors on behalf of the survivor
  • monitoring the safety and wellbeing of survivors, helping them assess their needs (housing, support etc) and linking them to the appropriate government or NGO agency or service
  • facilitating access to appropriate legal representation if requested."

The pilot is expected to run through June 2019. It will be evaluated by Malatest International. 

Under-Secretary to the Minister for Justice for Family and Sexual Violence Issues, Jan Logie welcomed the news, saying: "This was a recommendation of the 2009 Taskforce for Action on Sexual Violence, and it’s a huge relief to finally see some progress in this area because looking after survivors makes our justice system stronger."

The need to support victims was also identified in the Law Commission’s report, The Justice Response to Victims of Sexual Violence (2015).

More information

This pilot is part of the work to develop specialist sexual violence services under the government's cross-agency family violence & sexual violence work programme.

Under-Secretary Jan Logie has previously spoken about her concerns about victims of sexual violence in justice system.

Selected media

Alison Mau: Time's up; it's not safe for juries to decide on sex crimes, Stuff, 20.01.2019

Justice on trial: Juries obsess on whether victim is a virgin and the length of her skirt, Stuff, 13.01.2019

Over 60 per cent of rape charges not proven in court, Stuff, 23.09.2018

Exclusive: Figures show sexual violence court pilot is slashing trial wait times, One News, 05.09.2018

Specialist psycho-social support to be trialled for sexual violence court cases, Newshub, 14.08.2018