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)
More frontline services and extra places in perpetrator programmes are on the way for the multi-agency Integrated Safety Response pilot, following an additional injection of funding, Ministers have announced.
An extra $680,000 will allow the Christchurch ISR pilot to continue its work to combat family and sexual violence.
“The ISR pilot takes a whole-of-family approach to stop family violence by identifying risks and intervening earlier,” Ms Adams says.
“This funding boost will help support more frontline services, such as independent victim specialists and advocates to work with families, and create extra places in programmes to help perpetrators change their behaviour.”
“The pilot brings together all the agencies and NGOs around the one table, and is a key part of Government’s plan to change the way agencies respond to family violence,” Mrs Tolley says.
“The pilot, which has been running in Christchurch since July 2016, is making a difference to agencies and the families they are working with. The ISR team reviews all family violence episodes attended by NZ Police and high-risk prison releases in Christchurch on a daily basis.”
The $680,000 increase comes from the Justice Sector Fund, a cross-agency funding pool which allows money saved in one justice sector agency to be invested in another.
Efforts to reduce family violence will be supported by the 1125 extra police staff that Prime Minister Bill English announced last week as part of the Government’s $503 million Safer Communities package.
The ISR pilot is a key initiative developed by the Ministerial Group on Family and Sexual Violence Work Programme which is committed to reducing family violence and keeping victims safe.
About the Integrated Response Pilot:
The Integrated Safety Response pilot brings together a team of Police, CYF, Corrections, Health, specialist family violence NGOs and Māori service providers to support victims and their families. It aims to better support family violence victims by improving safety and stopping family violence escalating by identifying risks and intervening earlier. It has been operating in Christchurch since July 2016, and a second pilot running in Waikato since October 2016. More information at www.police.govt.nz/about-us/programmes-and-initiatives/integrated-safety-response-isr-pilot
The justice sector will receive an extra $115 million over four years to support the rollout of more police on the beat.
Justice and Courts Minister Amy Adams and Corrections Minister Louise Upston say the additional investment supports the work already underway to prevent crime and make communities safer. The $115 million funding boost for the Ministry of Justice and Department of Corrections is part of the Government’s larger $503 million Safer Communities package announced yesterday.
“The additional 880 police and 245 non-sworn staff will help prevent crime occurring and keep New Zealanders safe but, inevitably, it will also add pressure on our courts and prisons. This extra funding will enable Justice and Corrections to support the work being done by Police,” Ms Adams says.
Included in the Justice ($51 million) and Corrections ($64 million) funding is:
- $64 million for Corrections’ rehabilitation and reintegration programmes, and more staff
- A $16 million increase in legal aid
- $21 million to support District Courts to handle more cases
- $9 million for more judges.
“This investment builds on the National-led Government’s strong focus on preventing and reducing crime, supporting victims through the criminal justice system, and holding offenders to account,” Ms Adams says.
Ms Upston says the funding will assist Corrections to appropriately manage offenders in prison and in the community as well as continue to deliver programmes that improve rehabilitation and reintegration into the community.
“With an increased prison muster, it’s important that Corrections has the resources it needs to reduce reoffending and keep communities safe. Good management of offenders, which includes equipping them with the education and skills they require to lead productive and crime-free lives is essential for them, their families and for the community.”
The package builds on the $130 million Safer Sooner family violence package (which included 66 extra police to focus on family violence). As part of a wide-ranging work programme, the Government is also better supporting victims, reducing harm and helping keep communities safe.
A new pilot programme is underway to help at-risk social housing tenants hold onto their tenancies, Social Housing Minister Amy Adams said today.
Under the Sustaining Tenancies Initiative, tenants with complex or serious needs who may be at risk of losing their tenancy will receive practical support from community providers to help get back on track.
“We know that steady housing helps provide stability and security, however, some tenants face eviction from their home for anti-social behaviour or financial issues, only to end up in need for emergency housing. If we can avoid them being evicted by resolving their behaviour, this benefits the tenant, their family, and the taxpayer,” Ms Adams says.
“We want to try new ways of supporting people who live in social housing with these issues. Through a social investment lens, the Sustaining Tenancies Initiative aims to address the underlying causes of eviction, leading to better outcomes.”
When the initiative is fully up and running, eight community providers will work alongside around 1000 vulnerable social housing tenants, with funding of $5 million over two years. From today, the first three providers in the initiative are underway. These are:
- Affinity Services (Auckland)
- Downtown Community Ministry (Wellington)
- Comcare Trust (Christchurch).
“Many tenants would like to address the causes of their behaviour but don’t know where to turn. Under this new initiative, practical support is available,” Ms Adams says.
“The kinds of practical support available will depend on what each tenant needs, but could include budgeting advice, help with relationship issues, healthy living plans, life skills coaching, and assistance to help tenants return to education, training or to find stable work.”
This initiative is part of the $9 million Better Housing Outcomes package, announced in July 2016, to improve the supply of housing for vulnerable people and to help people stabilise their tenancies.
Justice Minister Amy Adams has welcomed New Zealand’s return to the top of global transparency rankings.
A number of Government initiatives have helped return New Zealand to first equal in the world, along with Denmark, in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. New Zealand scored 90 points out of 100.
“This is an excellent score and New Zealanders can be rightly proud of it. While we’ve always done well in these rankings, it’s encouraging to see New Zealand reclaim the top spot – a placing we’ve held in eight of the last ten years,” says Ms Adams.
“The result reflects New Zealand’s zero-tolerance of bribery and corruption, and affirms our reputation as world leaders in this area.
“The Government takes corruption seriously and we’ll continue to work to protect New Zealand’s reputation as a fair and transparent nation to live in and do business with.”
Recent anti-corruption initiatives progressed by the Government include:
- introducing new bribery offences and increasing the penalties for bribery and corruption through the Organised Crime and Anti-corruption Legislation Act
- ratifying the United Nations Convention Against Corruption
- reviewing New Zealand’s extradition and mutual legal assistance laws to ensure they are efficient and effective
- fast-tracking the second phase of anti-money laundering reforms
- contributing to global initiatives, such as the London Anti-Corruption Summit.
Justice Minister Amy Adams has welcomed New Zealand’s return to the top of global transparency rankings.Read more
Social Housing Minister Amy Adams has today welcomed data showing new help introduced by the Government is creating tangible support for struggling New Zealanders.
For the first time, the Ministry of Social Development’s quarterly benefit fact sheets have included figures on uptake of the Emergency Housing Special Needs Grant (SNG), introduced in July 2016.
“Emergency housing is a priority focus for the Government, and in this quarter alone the new grant has already supported 2600 New Zealanders by giving them somewhere warm, dry and safe to stay while they search for more sustainable housing,” says Ms Adams.
The new SNG has meant households in need of emergency housing have been eligible for financial support towards the cost of short-term accommodation, for up to seven days initially with extensions available where required.
“We’re providing a quick, short-term solution for those in need while longer term solutions are being developed. The number of New Zealanders requiring support is expected to reduce as 1400 additional contracted emergency housing places come available in the coming months,” says Ms Adams.
“This is part of $344 million announced last year for emergency housing support, which included funding for up to 2200 contracted places, and will provide households with accommodation for up to three months. Households in this accommodation will be supported by providers to plan their transition to more sustainable housing placements.
“The Emergency Housing SNG is part of a substantial programme of work underway to address the social housing needs of New Zealanders over the short, medium and longer terms.”