Encouraging response to family violence law review

  • Amy Adams

New Zealanders have supported the Government’s call for new and bold ways to address family violence, Justice Minister Amy Adams says.

Ms Adams today released a summary of the submissions received during a public consultation about the Government’s comprehensive review of family violence laws.

The summary details the range and strength of views on the ideas the public discussion document released last August, as well as additional ideas raised in the submissions.

“The discussion document included a range of innovative ideas to stir debate and kick-start a national conversation around how we deal with family violence,” Ms Adams says.

“While the legal framework is only one part of the family violence system, all of which is being reviewed as part of our all-of-government work programme, the laws that apply to family violence underpin how agencies, organisations and institutions respond to victims and perpetrators, so we need to make sure the laws are effective and work well together.”

The topics that received the most comments were:

  • updating the definition of domestic violence
  • making protection orders more accessible and effective
  • removing barriers to safety faced by specific population groups
  • improving information sharing in family violence cases
  • creating an additional pathway for victims, perpetrators and whānau who want help to stop violence, but don’t want to go to court.

Ms Adams says overall, people who had their say were broadly supportive of the ideas for potential change, and the consultation confirmed that the discussion document identified the key issues.

“As an example, many of the submitters who commented on information sharing between agencies agreed that safety trumps privacy in cases of family violence. People who had a say on protection orders and other legal tools thought they should be easier to get, and the consequences for breaching them should be swift and certain.”

The discussion document garnered a strong response, with almost 500 detailed submissions received from individuals, groups and organisations.

“I want to thank people for taking the time to share their personal stories, observations, frontline expertise, advice and research. All submissions have been read and analysed, and are providing a valuable source of information and insight as we develop options for change.”

Decisions about specific proposals for law changes will be announced in upcoming months, with a view to introducing a Bill later in the year.

The summary of submissions is available at https://consultations.justice.govt.nz/policy/family-violence-law

About the family violence work programme

Reducing family and sexual violence is one of the Government’s key priorities.

The family violence legislation review is part of the whole-of-government work programme that aims to stop family violence from occurring in the first place, reduce the harm it causes, and break the cycle of re-victimisation and re-offending.

The programme is overseen by the Ministerial Group on Family Violence and Sexual Violence, co-chaired by Ms Adams and Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and involving ministers responsible for 16 portfolios.

Other initiatives in the programme include projects that focus across agency boundaries such as:

  • improving workforce competencies across all agencies that respond to family and sexual violence
  • developing a consistent and best-practice risk assessment tool for use across the sector
  • better coordination of the $1.4 billion spent each year responding to family and sexual violence.