The National-led Government is making changes to our family violence laws to prevent the abuse, keep victims safe, and stop perpetrators.
The National-led Government is committed to better addressing the high rate of family violence. We want to ensure the home is a safe place for everyone.
We’ve announced sweeping changes across the system to better support victims and keep them safe. This includes making it easier to get a protection order, maximising the opportunities of Police safety orders, and making property orders more effective.
We’re taking action earlier to change perpetrator behaviour, including new offences to prosecute violence, a focus on getting in early, and connecting perpetrators with the help they need to stop the abuse.
We’re rolling out a new approach to better identify risk and recognise the patterns of family violence.
We need to do better to combat family violence. Our overhaul of our family violence laws is a critical, foundational step so that a new approach can be built.
National is working hard to play our part in breaking the cycle of violence within families and across generations.
The case for change
Family violence has a devastating impact on individuals and communities.
It affects New Zealanders from all walks of life, ethnicity and incomes.
Police respond to 110,000 family violence call-outs a year and children are present at nearly two-thirds of these incidents. On average, 14 women, seven men, and eight children killed by a member of their family every year.
We also know the impact on children can be severe and long lasting. For example, boys who witness family violence are twice as likely to abuse their partners and children when they grow up. Young people exposed to family violence are three times more likely to commit suicide.
Our plan for safer families
The overhaul to our family violence legislation stems from the National-led Government’s comprehensive review of the 20-year old Domestic Violence Act.
“We are focused on better ways to keep victims safe and changing perpetrator behaviour to stop abuse.” – Hon Amy Adams, Minister of Justice
Our extensive changes are directed to earlier and more effective interventions. We are focused on better ways to keep victims safe and changing perpetrator behaviour to stop abuse.
Changes to protection orders and the new offences alone are expected to prevent about 2300 fewer violent offences each year.
We are focused on redesigning the way the entire system prevents and responds to family violence. Our approach is around taking action sooner and in ways more likely to change the problem behaviour, and acting to better track dangerous behaviour and respond appropriately to that risk.
Key changes 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 a 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
wider range of programmes able to be ordered when Protection Order 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 proposals make changes to both civil and criminal laws. They are far reaching and designed to work as a package.
Our other work in this area
Our law reforms are part of a wider package of initiatives across Government to reduce family violence.
This package of law reform is part of the cross-agency work programme overseen by the Ministerial Group on Family Violence and Sexual Violence, which is committed to reducing family violence and keeping victims safe.
The raft of initiatives to address family and sexual violence include:
- bringing together agencies in a daily triage pilot in Christchurch and Waikato to provide wrap-around services to families in need
- establishing a Chief Victims Advisor
- rolling out a $3.6 million National Home Safety Service that’s helping up to 1000 victims and children stay safe in their homes each year
- creating a new child-centred Ministry for Vulnerable Children
- investing $46 million to support victims and prevent sexual violence
- changing court rules to allow the criminal and civil courts to share more information in family violence cases
- improving judges’ access to information in family violence cases
- creating a new disclosure scheme to make it easier for Police to release a person’s violent criminal past to a concerned partner or friend.
The National-led Government has placed major emphasis and resource into reducing family violence in New Zealand, but we can’t do it alone.
Every single New Zealander needs to play their part to reducing the terrible toll of family violence.