Unanimous support for family violence BillJustice
A Bill that overhauls New Zealand’s family violence laws has passed its first reading in Parliament today with unanimous support, says Justice Minister Amy Adams.
“For too long, New Zealand has been ranked as having some of the worst reported rates of family violence in the world. It’s time to think about family violence differently and create an effective, integrated system for addressing this complex and insidious issue,” says Ms Adams.
“The changes in the Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill are the most significant reforms of our family violence system undertaken in the last two decades.”
The Bill will overhaul the 20-year-old Domestic Violence Act, amend six other Acts and make consequential changes to over 30 pieces of law.
“This Bill implements our Safer Sooner reforms announced in September 2016, aimed at breaking the cycle of family violence and reducing the harm it causes those who suffer this abhorrent form of abuse,” says Ms Adams.
“These reforms are the beginning of a new integrated system but even on their own they have the potential to significantly reduce family violence. The new offences and changes to protection orders alone are expected to prevent around 2300 violent incidents every year.
“There is no quick or easy fix, and laws alone cannot solve our horrific rate of family violence. But they are a cornerstone element in how we respond to tackling family violence and this Government is motivated by the difference we can make for New Zealanders.”
A copy of the Bill can be found here.
Key provisions of the Bill include:
- getting help to those in need without them necessarily 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 a Protection Order, allowing others to apply on a victim’s behalf, and better providing for the rights of children under Protection Orders
- making evidence gathering in family violence cases easier for Police and less traumatic for victims
- wider range of programmes able to be ordered when a Protection Order is imposed
- making offending while on a Protection Order a specific aggravating factor in sentencing
- supporting an effective system of information sharing across all those dealing with family violence
- enabling the setting of codes of practice across the sector.