PM announces overhaul of family violence laws

  • John Key
Prime Minister

Prime Minister John Key has today announced an overhaul of New Zealand’s family violence laws which will see more support for victims and new offences introduced.

“The Government is committed to doing all we can to ensure New Zealanders are protected from family violence,” says Mr Key.

“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.”

Mr Key said today’s announcement comes after a two year review of family violence laws by Justice Minister Amy Adams. It will see more than 50 changes to the current Domestic Violence Act.

“The new measures announced today 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.”

Some of the new measures include:

  • Making the safety of victims a principal consideration in all bail decisions, and central to parenting and property orders.
  • Flagging all family violence offending on criminal records to ensure Courts and Police know when they are dealing with people with histories of family violence.
  • Creating new offences of non-fatal strangulation and assault on a family member, with tougher sentences than common assault. Coercion to marry will also be criminalised.
  • Enforcing tougher penalties for people who commit crimes while subject to a Protection Order.

The new measures will cost around $130 million over four years.

“One of the things that I’m proud of about this Government is that we do not and we will not shy away from tackling complex problems, especially on behalf of those who most need help,” says Mr Key.

“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.

“None of us should be deterred by the difficulty of the problem. Rather we should be motivated by the difference we can make.  Succeeding in reducing family violence will save lives, and transform lives.”