Justice Minister Amy Adams leaves for Turkey today as New Zealand’s official representative at the 102nd ANZAC Day commemorations at Gallipoli.
“The Gallipoli campaign has become a defining event in New Zealand's history. It will be my privilege to share the occasion with the hundreds of New Zealanders who have travelled across the globe to attend,” Ms Adams says.
“Gallipoli was New Zealand’s first major role in the First World War. 102 years on from the first landing, Anzac Day remains an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifice of the 2779 New Zealand killed and the 4852 wounded there.
“It’s also a time to honour all those who served in the First World War, and the other wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations for New Zealand.”
Ms Adams will attend a number of commemorative services on the Gallipoli Peninsula, including the Dawn Service and the New Zealand Service at Chunuk Bair.
“As demonstrated by the recent unveiling of the Turkish Memorial at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, Anzac Day has profound historical significance not only for New Zealanders and Australians, but also for the people of Turkey.
“Year after year, our hosts accommodate the many Australians and New Zealanders who come to see and experience what has become a special place in our countries’ shared history.”
A new Social Investment Agency is to be created which will help social sector agencies better understand and meet the needs of our most at-risk New Zealanders and communities, Minister Responsible for Social Investment Amy Adams has announced.
“The Social Investment focus is fundamentally about changing the lives of the most vulnerable New Zealanders by focusing on individuals and families, understanding their needs better and doing more of what we know is most likely to give the best results,” Ms Adams says.
“We’re pivoting the system around to help social sector agencies shift away from just focusing on their specific areas into better understanding and being able to assess the impact of their interventions across an individual’s life course. Greater use of data and evidence, and a focus on measuring outcomes, means we can create a system that looks for more opportunities to intervene sooner and more effectively.”
To help achieve this, a new, standalone Social Investment Agency and Social Investment Board will be created.
“The new agency will replace the Social Investment Unit currently operating as part of MSD and will provide robust all-of-Government social investment advice about which people we should be investing further in, and in what ways. This includes applying rigorous and evidence-based investment practices to social services. It will also be tasked with building the social investment architecture for all government and NGO agencies to use to help frontline staff fine-tune services and make them better targeted.
“Given the focus on evaluation and analysis, the work of the Social Investment Agency has clear potential for alignment with the range of functions currently being delivered through Superu. The State Services Commission has been asked to provide advice by the end of July on the future delivery of those functions to ensure the optimal structures are in place.”
The SIA launches on 1 July as a stand-alone departmental agency with its own chief executive, hosted within the State Services Commission. The Social Investment Board made will be made up of the Chief Executives of the Ministries of Education, Health, Justice and Social Development with an independent chair. It will be responsible for providing investment advice and implementation oversight, reporting through the Minister Responsible for Social Investment to the Social Policy Cabinet committee.
The Government spent $550 million over the last three months to support New Zealanders with a roof over their heads – the equivalent of $6.2 million every day.
Social Housing Minister Amy Adams released the new Social Housing Quarterly Report for the March 2017 quarter, which shows that wait times are down and more people are being helped into a warm, safe place to stay.
“We’re helping more people than before, and sooner. 1800 families were helped off the register into suitable housing, and they spent less time waiting to be housed,” Ms Adams says.
The new report shows that the increase in the Housing Register has slowed. At the end of March, there were 4865 applicants on the register – up just 2 per cent from 4771 in the previous quarter. The median time to house was down eight per cent.
9218 emergency housing Special Needs Grants were paid to 2616 clients – totalling $8.8 million.
“We promised to look after those needing emergency housing and we’re delivering on that – supporting hundreds of New Zealanders with a safety net while we find them more sustainable housing,” Ms Adams says.
“As more transitional and social housing is secured, we expect the need for the Special Needs Grant to decrease. New Zealanders needing housing support will continue to get it.
“These numbers underscore the importance of our plan to grow the number of social houses available, from 66,000 today to 72,000 over the next three years.”
Figures at a glance:$550 million total housing support provided in March 2017 quarter (89 days) Helped 1800 households into homes 4865 people on the housing register – up 2 per cent on last quarter 9218 emergency housing Special Needs Grants paid to 2616 clients – total spent $8.8 million Around 66,000 social houses across New Zealand.
The new Social Housing Quarterly Report can be found at http://www.msd.govt.nz/documents/about-msd-and-our-work/work-programmes/social-housing/msd-social-housing-quarterly-report-march-2017.pdf
The latest figures on the Housing Register can be found at www.housing.msd.govt.nz/information-for-housing-providers/register
Government funding that was committed to assist the Christchurch City Council in their housing objectives will be used to establish a shared equity home ownership initiative, says Social Housing Minister Amy Adams.
The Government committed funding in Budget 2015 to support the Christchurch City Council to achieve their housing objectives. The council has decided to use $3 million of this funding to establish the Christchurch Housing Fund to help Christchurch residents on modest incomes to buy their own home.
“The Christchurch City Council has proposed to use $3 million in Government funding committed to supporting their housing objectives to establish the Christchurch Housing Fund,” says Ms Adams.
“The council has designed this initiative and will be responsible for its implementation. It aims to help aspiring Christchurch homeowners by providing a second mortgage up to 40 per cent of their house purchase price, which will make their bank mortgage more affordable.”
The Christchurch City Council will arrange to match the Government’s funding, bringing the total of the fund to at least $6 million. The council estimates that between 25-40 households would be assisted by the Christchurch Housing Fund in the first three years of operation.
The fund will use several criteria for deciding who will receive this financial assistance. It will prioritise households at or below the median income level for Christchurch, households with children, and those with existing savings. The price cap on applicable housing will be the same as that for KiwiSaver HomeStart Grants – $500,000 for existing properties or $550,000 for new builds.
Work is underway on the most significant upgrade to the Taumarunui courthouse in 40 years, says Justice Minister Amy Adams.
“The $1.4 million upgrade includes interior redecoration, exterior surface refresh and cell upgrade,” says Ms Adams.
“A key part of the upgrade will be improved security features including a screened-off secure dock. This will provide enhanced security to the community.”
The courthouse was built in 1970 and hosts a single courtroom and a cell.
"The upgrade will bring the facilities up to modern standards and future-proof the courthouse for years to come," says Ms Adams.
Contractors have started work this week and aim to have the job completed in November.
The courthouse is a hearings-only facility and last year dealt with around 660 cases.
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.
Police Minister Paula Bennett and Justice Minister Amy Adams have today announced $10 million for initiatives to improve Māori justice outcomes.
“It is well known that Māori are overrepresented at every stage in the criminal justice system. We’re not prepared to accept that continuing,” says Mrs Bennett.
“Tackling this issue is a priority for the justice sector which is why we have set aside $10 million of the Justice Sector Fund for initiatives that will improve outcomes for Māori in the justice system,” says Ms Adams.
The first initiative to be funded is a services hub which aims to prevent offending and reoffending. It will receive $4.73 million to deliver four new whānau-centred justice services, co-designed by the justice sector and Christchurch-based urban Māori organisation Ngā Maata Waka.
The services are:a program that aims to prevent at-risk young Māori from offending by assisting them to build positive whānau relationships and engage with their culture through activities such as kapa haka and te reo intensive mentoring for young people who have offended support for women in prison, their children and temporary caregivers support for young people to obtain driver licences.
“Police, with support from Corrections, will lead the delivery of these services in partnership with Ngā Hau E Whā marae. I’m hopeful that as the programmes start delivering results we’ll be able to develop further programmes for future iwi, Māori and justice sector services,” says Mrs Bennett.
The Justice Sector Fund assists 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.
Since its establishment in 2012, it has distributed $263 million of savings into 63 initiatives across the justice sector.
Today the Government issued an Expression of Interest to Community Housing Providers interested in taking over ownership of up to 2500 social houses in Christchurch. As part of this deal, the new provider will be required to provide at least 150 additional new social housing places.
“We want to see a diverse field of entities providing social housing to ensure the best responses for tenants. In addition, the transfer programme enables even more social houses to be provided across New Zealand,” says Social Housing Minister Amy Adams.
“The houses in any transfer will be legally required to stay as social houses. They aren’t being sold to private homeowners. Tenancies will be transferred along with the properties, which means tenants will stay where they are. Rent and rights won’t change.
“There will be more social housing in Christchurch as a result of a transfer, and the proceeds will be used to build even more social houses in the areas of most demand.
“The transfer will only go ahead if I am assured that it will result in better services for tenants and a fair value for taxpayers.
“The Government is focused on solving some of New Zealand’s longstanding social challenges. This means we need to try things differently.
“There are opportunities to improve services to tenants. We are looking for community housing providers prepared to step up to help support tenants to achieve housing independence and bring much-needed innovation and expertise to those in need of a roof over their heads.”
The proposed transfer includes up to 2500 properties around the suburbs of Shirley, Bryndwr and Riccarton. Housing New Zealand will continue to own and manage around 3300 properties across the city.
The proposed transfer can be found on GETS at www.gets.govt.nz/TSY/ExternalTenderDetails.htm?id=18484774
A potentially life-saving scheme that allows Police to disclose a person’s violent past to a partner or friend has been used 158 times since it was launched, say Police Minister Paula Bennett and Justice Minister Amy Adams.
“Since the scheme’s launch in December 2015, Police have approved 74 per cent of disclosure requests. Preventing family violence is a priority for Police and this scheme gives them another way to help reduce harm.”
A disclosure request can be made to Police by the partner of the potentially violent person or a concerned third party. Police can also proactively release information if they believe someone is at risk of violence from their partner.
“Police have told me about a disclosure they made to a young woman who was in a relationship with a man in his early 20s. He was known to have had multiple relationships with younger women where he became manipulative and used emotional abuse like threatening suicide if his partner left him. Police believed the woman was at risk as his behaviour was escalating towards becoming violent.
“When Police approached her to make the voluntary disclosure, she said she had seen the man’s behaviour deteriorating. As a result she made the decision to leave the relationship and move back in with family,” Mrs Bennett says.
“There have been too many cases where people have been unable to find out whether their partner, or the partner of someone close to them, has a history of violence,” says Ms Adams.
“This scheme allows people to make informed choices about their relationship and safety. We know that it has already helped a number of people to make the decision to remove themselves from a potentially violent relationship.”
Of the 158 requests made in the last 15 months, 117 have been requested proactively by Police while 41 have been by a third party. These requests have resulted in a total of 117 being approved for disclosures to be made.
Once a request has been received, a decision is made as to whether the disclosure can be made to individuals who must meet set criteria under the scheme’s policy.
Legislation passed in 2015 to curb cyber-bullying is effectively weeding out and punishing the worst offenders, says Justice Minister Amy Adams.
“The Harmful Digital Communications Act made it illegal to send messages and post material online that deliberately causes a victim serious emotional distress,” says Ms Adams.
“The law is also protecting those most vulnerable to online abuse by clamping down on bullies who encourage their victims to commit suicide, regardless of whether or not the victim attempts or is successful in taking their life.”
Since coming into force the Act has resulted in:132 criminal charges filed 77 criminal cases finalised 50 convictions and sentences 4 diversions completed 3 dismissals 1 discharge without conviction
“One of the worst cases we’ve seen involved a man who was jailed for sending half naked photos of his ex-girlfriend to a shared work email address. This shows the law is working well to punish the most serious offenders.”
The Act also established an Approved Agency, Netsafe, and civil court remedies to assess, investigate and deal with complaints about harm caused to individuals by digital communications.
“Since Netsafe began in November 2016, it has received over 600 requests for assistance with harmful digital communications,” says Ms Adams.
“The law tackles cyberbullying head on and simplifies the process for getting harmful communications off the internet quickly and effectively, while still respecting the right to free speech.”