A national summit on family violence will be hosted by Justice Minister Amy Adams and Social Development Minister Anne Tolley in Wellington on June 7.
“We know that family violence is a significant and complex issue in New Zealand, with Police responding to an incident every five minutes. That’s why I’ve made helping to reduce family violence my core priority,” says Ms Adams.
“Across New Zealand there are large numbers of people working hard every day to combat this horrific form of abuse. The Family Violence Summit will bring together people from the sector to continue the conversation around how we break the pattern of family violence and reduce the harm.”
The Summit will support the work already underway as part of the Government’s family violence reforms, which includes the introduction of the Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill to overhaul the Domestic Violence Act and strengthen family violence laws.
“Family violence has devastating impacts on individuals, families and communities and costs New Zealand over $4 billion per year,” says Mrs Tolley.
“Agency and non-government organisation responses are typically siloed and difficult for people to navigate between. The Family Violence Summit will aim to contribute to a more joined up sector.”
Invitees will comprise of a broad cross-section of groups involved in combating family violence including NGOs, support workers, victims, and former perpetrators.
A new Ministry of Justice publication launched today by Justice Minister Amy Adams showcases how fresh thinking by talented people is helping to address complex issues in the justice sector.
Ms Adams says the Justice: Our People, Our Communities booklet shares stories about people and initiatives that are making a real difference to New Zealanders’ experiences of our courts and justice system.
“The booklet is more than just an insight into the running of a busy courtroom. It highlights smart and innovative ways that people are working together in the justice sector to deliver better outcomes for New Zealanders.
“It shows how initiatives like the National Home Safety Service, which keeps people at risk of family violence safe in their homes with practical support including replacing locks and installing security lights, are delivering real benefits to those who need it most.”
Ms Adams acknowledged the contribution of everyone showcased in the booklet and the many others who were also contributing innovative thinking and hard work across the justice sector.
“This booklet reminds us that we have a justice system we can be proud of, but we can never rest on our laurels. We want to continue to see more efficient, effective and timely courts and justice processes.”
The booklet can be found here.
Legislation that overhauls the family violence system is a core part of reducing New Zealand’s horrendous rate of family violence, says Justice Minister Amy Adams.
The Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill was introduced to Parliament today to overhaul the Domestic Violence Act, amend six Acts and make consequential changes to over thirty pieces of law.
“It’s undeniable that one of the most concerning and most difficult social issues facing New Zealand is our unacceptably high rate of family violence. Part of this is the ingrained and insidious nature of the problem. But it’s also in the fact that there’s no easy or quick fix,” Ms Adams says.
“To properly tackle family violence we need to create an effective, integrated system for addressing it. We need a system that acts early to stop perpetrators hurting their families, protects victims, and breaks the cycle of re-offending.
“The omnibus Family and Whānau Violence Bill is an important part of building a new way of dealing with family violence. It implements our Safer Sooner reforms announced in September 2016 aimed at breaking the pattern of family violence and reducing the harm and cost inflicted on those who suffer violence and on the wider New Zealand society.
“These reforms will strengthen family violence laws and build the legal framework necessary to deliver the wider component of the work programme.
“There is no doubt that making a difference in family violence is hard. But I’m proud to be part of a Government that’s prepared to take on the big challenges.”
Key provisions of the Bill includes: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.
A copy of the Bill is available at https://goo.gl/HSnwza
A Bill to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing has been introduced to Parliament today by Justice Minister Amy Adams.
The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Amendment Bill will bolster New Zealand’s existing anti-money laundering laws, which help protect businesses and make it harder for criminals to profit from and fund illegal activities.
“This puts in place the second phase of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act (AML/CFT), which we fast-tracked work on last year,” says Ms Adams.
“Money laundering allows criminals to fund their lifestyle and it fuels re-investment in criminal ventures. Extending the law will improve our ability to prevent, detect and prosecute many types of criminal activity and help protect New Zealand’s reputation as a good place to do business.”
The Amendment Bill extends the Act to lawyers, conveyancers, accountants, real estate agents, and sports and racing betting. Businesses that deal in certain high value goods, including motor vehicles, jewellery and art, will also have obligations under the Act when they accept or make large cash transactions.
Ms Adams says the Bill strikes the right balance between combating crime, minimising the cost of compliance and meeting international obligations.
"It is estimated that the reforms in this Bill could disrupt up to $1.7 billion in fraud and drug crime over the next 10 years. Estimates also suggest they may prevent up to $5 billion in broader criminal activity and reduce about $800 million in social harm related to the illegal drug trade.
“Over the past several months, we have worked with affected sectors to better understand how the changes will impact their businesses and refined options to help them meet their obligations. This has significantly reduced the predicted compliance costs – the initial estimate of up to $1.6 billion over 10 years has been lowered to between $800 million and $1.1 billion.”
Businesses will have a period of time to prepare for the changes. The Government will provide guidance and information to help businesses understand, prepare for and comply with the law.
Crime rates are significantly lower than in 2011, but latest figures show that challenges remain to tackle crime and reoffending, says Justice Minister Amy Adams.
The Justice Sector’s BPS results for the year ended September 2016 released today show slight increases across the four targets over the last quarter, although they all remain down on 2011 levels.
“There has been great progress in our BPS results since 2011 but we know we need to ramp up our efforts to develop more innovative ways to continue to drive crime and reoffending rates down further,” says Ms Adams.
The BPS measures for the year to September are as follows:total crime rate up 1.4 per cent (down 14 per cent since 2011) violent crime rate up 3.1 per cent (down 2 per cent since 2011) youth crime rate up 2.5 per cent (down 32 per cent since 2011) re-offending rate up 1.2 per cent (down 4.4 per cent since 2011)
The increase in reporting of family violence is one of the major factors resulting in the upturn of violent crime and the total crime rate.
"Violent crime in dwellings, strongly correlated with family violence, has risen 3 per cent in the last quarter. This is likely to be due to increased reporting of family violence incidences, a sign that the Government’s comprehensive family violence programme is raising awareness,” says Ms Adams.
“Tackling family violence is a key priority for this Government. While I’m pleased that more victims are coming forward to report this horrendous form of abuse, the results also show the extent of the work that needs to be done.”
Ms Adams says that although strong gains have been made across all four targets since 2011, there are still areas to address to improve justice outcomes for New Zealanders.
“That’s why we are focusing on areas that can really make a difference in homes and communities, including investing in a new Safer Communities package with 1125 additional police staff and introducing legislation to create a modern, fit for purpose family violence system.
“The Government is committed to investing in programmes which tackle these complex issues head on so that New Zealanders continue to feel safe within their homes and communities,” says Ms Adams.
Initiatives to reduce crime and reoffending have been made possible through smart fiscal management by justice sector agencies, says Justice Minister Amy Adams.
The Justice Sector Fund allows money saved in one justice sector agency to be used in another. Since its establishment in 2012, it has distributed $257 million of savings into 60 initiatives across the justice sector.
“These savings are one of the untold success stories of the National-led Government. The $257 million of savings made by five of the agencies in the justice sector has been reinvested through the Justice Sector Fund, ensuring taxpayer dollars go further,” says Ms Adams.
“The Justice Sector Fund backs projects that support the Government’s Better Public Service targets of reducing crime and reoffending, and allows agencies to trial new initiatives that deliver better results for New Zealanders.”
Key initiatives include:Expanding the use of audio-visual links between courts and prisons to improve public and prisoner safety A suite of initiatives to increase the safety of family violence victims, reduce their risk of re-victimisation and make services more responsive to victims’ individual needs The Department of Corrections’ Out of Gate programme, a post-release support service for offenders that has been shown to reduce the rate of reconvictions by five per cent Funding for the Investment Approach to Justice to help agencies involved in crime prevention make better informed decisions for maximum impact Specialist fingerprint equipment to detect drug crime, which allows New Zealand Police to improve collection of fingerprints from traditionally difficult surfaces, such as currency and fabric Iwi panels, a form of alternative resolution that involves iwi and Māori organisations in responding to low-level offending, and addressing factors related to offending A mental health service across prisons and some Community Corrections sites, which will improve the stability of offenders’ mental health and reduce their risk of reoffending Supporting the establishment of the Gangs Intelligence Centre, which combines information held by different government agencies to build detailed intelligence about activities of gang members and prospects A road safety intervention package for repeat drink driving offenders including alcohol interlocks (which prevent a vehicle from being operated while the driver is under the influence of alcohol).
Once initiatives have shown they are effective at reducing crime and reoffending they are able to seek long term funding through the annual Budget process.
Justice and Courts Minister Amy Adams has welcomed the return of court services to Kaikoura.
The District Court at Kaikoura has held its first hearing since the earthquake with 29 people appearing. Court services had been unable to run in the town since it was struck by an earthquake last November.
Ms Adams thanked the court staff and judiciary for all their hard work to ensure services were quickly re-established.
“Court staff and the judiciary have worked in conjunction with the Police and the lawyers involved in Kaikoura cases to either move court cases or defer appearances until the court could run again. This collaboration at a local level helped ensure that court services still ran smoothly while acknowledging the issues that the Kaikoura population has been facing.
“The return of business as usual services to the Kaikoura District Court is another step towards normality for the town.”
The District Court at Kaikoura is a hearing centre that operates out of the Kaikoura Memorial Hall every five to six weeks. Although the Memorial Hall was not damaged in the earthquake, logistical challenges such as road closures and access to court equipment meant it was not possible to hold hearings.
More families will have a warm and safe place to stay in times of need with the opening of the first stages of an emergency housing development in Otahuhu, Auckland.
The 43-house Luke Street transitional housing development was officially opened today by Prime Minister Bill English.
“Luke Street is the first HNZ purpose built emergency housing development under the Government’s $303.6 million emergency housing funding announced in November 2016,” Social Housing Minister Amy Adams says.
“This approach focuses on bringing a mix of housing configurations to market quickly to provide short-term housing options for families while they wait for more permanent housing. It’s part of delivering on our goal of providing 2150 emergency housing places capable of supporting 8600 families each year.
“This development is another example of how the Government is delivering new housing for homeless and vulnerable New Zealanders.”
“Back in October, the Luke Street land was an empty lot that in the future will be used for a school,” Associate Social Housing Minister Alfred Ngaro says.
“Today, after only a few short months, we have the first families moving in. These three families had previously been living in motels and garages, and are now moving in to warm, safe places close to their children’s schools and where they’ll be supported for anywhere between 12 and 24 weeks before moving into more sustainable housing options.”
“It’s great to see how the Government’s $303.6 million funding is making a difference in the community,” Mr Ngaro says.
When complete, around 210 people, mainly families with children, will be housed in the Luke Street properties. Three houses are now tenanted, with another nine being tenanted within a matter of weeks. The remaining 31 houses will be completed in stages over the coming weeks.
Three housing providers, Monte Cecelia Trust, The Salvation Army and VisionWest Community Trust, are in discussions to co-manage the care and support services that will be provided to families during their stay at Luke Street.
Some of Wellington’s most vulnerable will benefit from a new emergency housing service now open thanks to the Government’s backing, Social Housing Minister Amy Adams says.
Operated by Oasis Network Inc, Hillary Court in Naenae will see up to 15 single males at a time housed and provided with wraparound social services to help them get back on their feet.
Ms Adams opened the facility and met residents today alongside Associate Social Housing Minister Alfred Ngaro and local MP Chris Bishop.
“I’m delighted to see first-hand how this new funding is improving emergency housing and making a difference for struggling New Zealanders,” Ms Adams says.
“Oasis Network has been involved in the Hutt Valley for more than 25 years, making them exactly the type of organisation the Government wants to partner with to better deliver housing to those in most desperate need.
“For most people who need emergency housing, the roof over their heads is just the beginning. One of the advantages of working with community providers like Oasis is that they have the ability to go further and address the most common underlying issues such as mental health and addiction, education and job stability, and the simple skills required to maintain a household that most New Zealanders take for granted but are in fact a real challenge for vulnerable people. This is social investment at work.”
Oasis Network staff will work onsite to support the residents during their stay, and continue to assist them once they’ve transitioned into more independent, permanent living.
Last year, the Government provided $354 million in new funding for Emergency Housing – the first time permanent funding has been committed, which will provide 8600 emergency housing places per year.
The Government will introduce a new scheme to address historical convictions for homosexual offences, Justice Minister Amy Adams has announced.
“While the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986 decriminalised consensual sex between men aged 16 and over, convictions for those offences remain on record and can appear in criminal history checks,” Ms Adams says.
“Although we can never fully undo the impact on the lives of those affected, this new scheme will provide a pathway for their convictions to be expunged. It means people will be treated as if they had never been convicted, and removes the ongoing stigma and prejudice that can arise from convictions for homosexual offences.
“I acknowledge the pain that these New Zealanders have lived with and hope that this will go some way toward addressing that.”
People with convictions for specific offences relating to consensual sexual activity between men 16 years and over will be eligible to apply to the Secretary of Justice to have the conviction expunged, an approach consistent with other overseas jurisdictions, such as Australia. If a person’s application is approved, government records will be amended so the conviction does not appear in criminal history checks and they will be entitled to declare they have no such conviction.
The application process will be free for applicants. Decisions will be made by the Secretary of Justice, without the need for formal court hearings or for applicants to appear in person.
“As there may be instances where the offending involved conduct that is still unlawful today, we can’t apply a broad brush approach to wiping convictions. The scheme will involve a case-by-case approach,” Ms Adams says.
Ms Adams says the Government intends to introduce legislation to implement the scheme in the coming months.
- Q&A - Historical homosexual convictions expungement scheme.pdf (pdf 209.89 KB)