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Reducing family violence harm top priority

Minister of Justice Andrew Little has today announced amendments to the Family and Whānau Violence Bill, designed to strengthen the legislative foundations of the family violence system.

“This Government has reiterated addressing family violence is a priority in its work to improve the wellbeing of families and children, and our aim is to reduce the harm that family violence causes in New Zealand,” said Andrew Little.

“One of the main changes is allowing Police safety orders to protect victims for up to ten days. This will provide victims with more time to put in place safety arrangements at a crucial point in time. Other changes include:

  • modernising the Domestic Violence Act to improve its usability
  • further recognising the coercion and control elements of family violence
  • requiring assessors and providers to take into account victim views, and
  • specifying that dowry abuse is a form of family violence.

“I’ve talked about the need for action to address family violence across Government, in businesses, in communities and within families and whānau. I’ve referred to the appalling family violence incidents that are far too common in our society, the need to make real change to better protect victims and to take steps to prevent perpetrators from inflicting violence on family members.  

“Central to this is the modernisation of law, with the Family and Whānau Violence Bill passing its second reading today with unanimous support in Parliament. The Bill was introduced to Parliament in May 2016 following extensive public consultation on family violence law reform.

“The Family Violence Bill lays the foundations for the transformation of the family violence response system by promoting consistent, collaborative responses to people experiencing family violence. The amendments we are making will strengthen the focus on victims, clarify the law and enable government and communities to work together. We want to make a real difference to the wellbeing of men, women, and children affected by violence.

“The Bill will provide mechanisms for earlier intervention and assessment of the risk that a perpetrator will inflict more serious harm. The Bill identifies the need for greater collaboration within the sector, with obligations for specified family violence agencies and social service practitioners to consider how they collaborate, including sharing information in the best interests of safety. It also puts the dynamic of family violence at the heart of the prevention, identification, and response to this significant issue plaguing New Zealand.

“We need to get in as early as possible, support victims to access the support they want and need to ensure their safety. We also must do all we can to break the cycle of family violence and prevent victims from becoming perpetrators across generations,” said Mr Little.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister of Justice (Domestic and Sexual Violence), Jan Logie said: “We identified in the select committee report that more can be done. That more must be done. This is a huge opportunity and we must do all we can to make transformational change. The submissions on the Bill and the ongoing conversations I have been having with communities have driven the changes we will be making to this Bill at the committee of the whole House stage. I have been working closely with the Minister of Justice on this Bill and am pleased with the changes we will be making,” said Jan Logie.