It’s no secret New Zealand’s rate of family violence is unacceptable. Police currently respond to 110,000 family violence call-outs a year. Children are present at nearly two-thirds of these incidents.
There are too many Kiwi households stuck in a life of fear and despair. They need help to stop the violence and repression so they can lead healthier, happier and more fulfilling lives.
Last week the Government underlined our commitment to doing all we can to ensure New Zealanders are protected from family violence. I’m pleased to support the overhaul of New Zealand’s family violence laws announced last week by Prime Minister John Key and Justice Minister Amy Adams which will see more support for victims and new offences introduced.
The new measures are focused on faster and more effective intervention. We have to get better at identifying dangerous behaviour that can escalate into more serious violence much earlier. We are focused on better ways to keep victims safe and changing perpetrator behaviour to stop abuse and re-abuse.
Some of the new measures 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 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
- enabling a wider range of programmes to be ordered when Protection Orders are imposed
- making offending while on a Protection Order a specific aggravating factor in sentencing
- enabling the setting of codes of practice across the sector.
The new measures will cost $130 million over four years.
Family violence has a devastating impact on individuals and communities, and a profound impact that can span generations and lifetimes. There are no easy fixes.
Laws alone cannot solve New Zealand’s horrific rate of family violence. But effective laws are essential in expressing our community’s expectations and enabling all agencies to respond to family violence.
The challenge of reducing family violence lies with all of us, with the Government, the Police, social agencies, and with everyone who knows that violence is occurring.
Succeeding in reducing family violence will save lives, and transform lives.