Social Housing Minister Amy Adams has welcomed the 2015 Social Housing Valuation as the first step in building a more sophisticated understanding of the factors that affect vulnerable New Zealanders.
“Our first valuation of New Zealand’s social housing system sets a benchmark to measure progress and understand how effectively new initiatives are helping those most in need,” Ms Adams says.
“The valuation lets us measure success by how we change people’s lives. It is part of our broader Social Investment approach – where we’re building a better understanding of what works and for who, and where to invest funds to make the biggest difference across housing, welfare and the broader social sector.”
The valuation reflects people who were in a social house or on the register from July 2014 to June 2015.
According to the report, the projected lifetime cost of adults in social housing is $16.4 billion. About 85 per cent of this cost relates to future Income-Related Rent Subsidy payments for tenants in social housing. Those in social housing are expected, on average, to spend 17 years in social housing.
Other key findings of the valuation include:People on Jobseeker or Sole Parent Support are about 70 times more likely to apply for social housing than those not on benefits in the past five years Pacific people are seven times more likely to be in social housing and Māori are five times more likely compared to other ethnicities Auckland is 35 per cent of the population, but 61 per cent of the total liability. The average household liability is 80 per cent higher than the rest of New Zealand.
“With every valuation, we’ll gain more evidence to invest earlier on in the people who need it most, with the support that will make the most difference,” Ms Adams says.
“The more we can support our most vulnerable people to become independent, the better their lives will be. That’s what we’re doing with initiatives such as Housing First and Sustaining Tenancies, and with transitional housing that includes social support as part of the package.
“We want to make sure that vulnerable New Zealanders have a safe, secure place to live, and give them a stable base to access support to become more independent and improve their lives.”
The 2015 valuation can be found at www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/evaluation/social-housing-valuation/index.html
A Bill to allow historical convictions for homosexual offences to be removed will help put right a wrong from the past, says Justice Minister Amy Adams.
The Criminal Records (Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Bill was introduced to Parliament today.
“The tremendous hurt and stigma suffered by those who were affected can never be fully undone, but I hope that this Bill will go some way toward addressing that,” says Ms Adams.
“This Bill introduces the first ever expungement scheme in New Zealand. It will allow men convicted of specific homosexual offences decriminalised by the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986 to apply to have the convictions wiped from their criminal record.
“Allowing historical convictions for homosexual offences to remain on a person’s criminal record perpetuates the stigma which such convictions carry. A person can be further disadvantaged if they are required to disclose their conviction or it appears on a criminal history check.”
Ms Adams says the scheme will be open to applications from men with convictions for specific offences relating to sexual conduct between consenting men 16 years and over, or by a family member on their behalf if the person is deceased. The application process will be free for applicants.
“The scheme requires case-by-case assessments of the relevant facts to determine whether the conduct a person was charged with is still unlawful today. The decision will be made by the Secretary for Justice, without the need for a court hearing or for applicants to appear in person,” says Ms Adams.
“If a person’s conviction is expunged, the conviction will not appear on a criminal history check for any purpose and they will be entitled to declare they had no such conviction when required to under New Zealand law.”
A copy of the Bill can be found at www.parliament.nz/en/pb/bills-and-laws/bills-proposed-laws/document/BILL_74442/criminal-records-expungement-of-convictions-for-historical
Justice and Courts Minister Amy Adams has today tabled the Law Commission’s report on proposals to modernise New Zealand’s contempt of court laws.
“Contempt law is intended to protect the integrity of the justice system and maintain public confidence in the administration of justice,” says Ms Adams.
“It helps to preserve a fair, impartial and effective justice system and safeguards a person’s right to a fair trial. However our contempt law is widely considered to be vague in scope and, as it was developed prior to the digital age and enactment of the Bill of Rights Act 1990, it has become out of date.”
Contempt rules are currently a mix of court decisions and various laws passed by Parliament. The Law Commission report recommends putting most contempt law into statute so it is easier to find and understand. It would mean offences and penalties for each kind of contempt would be clearly set out.
The report also proposes giving courts the power to make take down orders for material on the internet and social media platforms that breach suppression orders.
Ms Adams says the Government will carefully consider the recommendations and respond in due course.
“The Law Commission’s proposals would affect a number of other laws and a range of people and organisations involved in the court system, including judges, lawyers, media, defendants, victims, witnesses and court visitors. We need to consider how these recommendations would work in practice so that any changes we make are effective and fair.”
The Law Commission’s report can be found here.
Examples of different types of contempt include:a juror doing their own research, which can jeopardise the outcome of a trial the media or a member of the public publishing suppressed details of a case a person disrupting the courtroom to interrupt trials or intimidate witnesses
The penalties for contempt are serious, and can mean time in prison or a heavy fine.
Three Community Housing Providers have been given the opportunity to present formal proposals to take over up to 2500 Housing New Zealand properties and tenancies in Christchurch, the Government announced today.
This follows an invitation in April for Expressions of Interest from Community Housing Providers interested in participating in the proposed transfer, centred on the suburbs of Shirley, Bryndwr and Riccarton.
The three short-listed respondents each bring together an experienced New Zealand registered community housing provider with equity providers that have worked on social housing and major infrastructure projects. The three providers are:Community Futures Christchurch, a consortium whose members are the community housing provider Trust House Limited, Whitehelm Capital Pty Ltd, and Broadspectrum (New Zealand) Limited Ōtautahi Community Housing Consortium, made up of the community housing provider Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust and Morrison & Co PPP GP 2 Limited A third consortium whose members are the community housing provider Compass Housing Services Co (New Zealand) Limited, AMP Capital Investors Limited, and Brookfield Financial Australia Securities Limited.
Finance Minister Steven Joyce said all three respondents submitted high-quality Expressions of Interest.
“Each demonstrated their capability for providing innovative and responsive services for tenants from a sound, sustainable financial base, while also delivering on the Government’s requirement to supply at least another 150 social housing places,” Mr Joyce says.
Social Housing Minister Amy Adams said the purpose of the process was to ensure that not only the social housing stock is increased and improved, but to deliver better services to tenants.
“While ownership of these properties may change, the properties will remain as social houses, just as they are now. They won’t be able to be sold off and must continue to be used as social housing. Current tenants will remain in their homes. Neither their rent or rights will change as a result of the transfer, including their eligibility for social housing,” Ms Adams says.
“At the same time we are looking for a provider who will apply fresh thinking and make a positive difference to the way tenants are supported, and properties are managed.”
Housing New Zealand will continue to own and manage up to 3300 properties across Christchurch.
Police Minister Paula Bennett and Justice Minister Amy Adams say using digital devices to take onsite statements from victims of family violence will reduce the stress on victims, save Police time and create richer evidence for the courts.
“From today, officers in Counties Manukau will trial using an app on their phone to record audio-visual victim statements. Instead of requiring victims of family violence to provide a written and signed statement of what happened back at the station, Police will video the victim's statement. This will be a lot faster, less complex and completed on scene,” Mrs Bennett says.
“The new approach will change how Police respond at family harm investigations, it will make an already difficult situation less stressful, while keeping with internationally recommended practice.”
“The intention is to have these statements played in court. Videos can only be taken with the victim’s consent. They will be uploaded to secure, cloud-based storage while the investigation and court process takes place,” Ms Adams says.
“Victim video statements are part of a larger programme of work to provide better services to victims and further reduce harm caused by family violence. Counties Manukau Police have received support for the initiative from Victim Support, Eastern Women’s Refuge, and Court Services for Victims at the Manukau District Court.”
The pilot will be evaluated, including frontline officer and victim feedback, and recommendations will be made regarding next steps.
The use of mobile devices to video record family harm victim statements were first tested from November 2015 to July 2016 by staff in Palmerston North as part of a proof of concept. In May 2016 it was ruled in the Palmerston North District Court to decline the admissibility of the victim’s video statement to be played in court as their evidence in chief.
That ruling reinforced that changes needed to be made to the Evidence Regulations, recognising considerable technological advancements for obtaining evidence were now available. As a result, the Ministry of Justice amended the Evidence Regulations to include provisions for mobile video records in criminal proceedings relating to family violence. These changes came into effect on 9 January 2017.
The Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment (AODT) Court pilot has been extended for a further three years, Justice and Courts Minister Amy Adams announced today.
The AODT Court pilot, which began in November 2012 in the Waitakere and Auckland District Courts, aims to help reduce alcohol and drug use, reoffending and imprisonment. It identifies offenders whose alcohol and other drug dependency is behind a pattern of serious offending and diverts them from prison into treatment under the close supervision of the Court.
“The harm associated with alcohol and other drug abuse remains one of the major drivers of crime and social harm in this country,” says Ms Adams.
“Preliminary analysis suggests the AODT Court reduces the likelihood of reoffending by around 15 per cent in the short-term when measured against matched offenders going through the standard court process.
“One of the early graduates from the Court was a man who had been dependent on drugs for over 20 years. He has since been clean for over three years and is now working at a drug rehabilitation organisation to help others get off drugs and into a life free of crime.
“We’re seeing many other success stories emerging from the AODT Court pilot and early signs are promising. However, given the length of time participants spend in the Court, the small sample size to date, and the need to determine whether reductions in reoffending are sustainable once graduates leave the Court, it is necessary to extend the pilot for a further three years.
“This will enable us to determine whether the Court is the best way to achieve a long-lasting reduction in the harm associated with alcohol and drug abuse before we look at permanently establishing the model.”
Hundreds of families in the Hawkes Bay will be helped through the Government’s social housing plans for the region, Ministers say.
“We’ve made a commitment to help New Zealanders find their feet when times are tough, and our plans for the Hawkes Bay will do just that,” Social Housing Minister Amy Adams says.
Plans for 195 social housing places and 129 short-term transitional housing places will benefit around 711 local families a year.
“Our plans for the region are a recognition that access to safe, warm and dry housing is a growing area of concern, and we’re working hard to address those demands.
“We’re on track to have the short-term transitional housing places available by the end of the year, and expect to see the new social housing places coming on board over the next three years.”
Associate Minister for Social Housing, Alfred Ngaro visited one of the newly opened transitional housing places in Hastings today.
Mr Ngaro met with staff at the Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga run property to hear about the difference that transitional housing is making in the area.
“Every day, we’re hearing stories from our frontline about the great work being done by our community housing providers to help people in need,” says Mr Ngaro.
“This isn’t just about housing. The investment of $354 million the Government made last year into transitional housing recognises that many of our struggling families are facing further challenges. That’s why we’ve partnered with some fantastic community housing providers to make sure they’re getting further help to get back on their feet – from budgeting advice to cooking lessons or parenting support.
“Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga are a great example. They’re working extremely hard to help those in our community who need help to get back on their feet which is why it’s great that we’re able to support even more transitional housing developments”.
We’ve now secured 30 of our planned transitional housing places, meaning that we’re already in a position to help 120 local families this year, with more places scheduled to open in the coming weeks and months.”
Drink driving charges have halved since 2009, says Justice Minister Amy Adams.
Latest drink driving offence figures show the number of people charged in 2016 was 16,304 compared to 31,933 in 2009.
“Almost 16,000 fewer people were charged with drink driving offences in 2016 compared to 2009. That’s a 49 per cent decrease in seven years, reflecting a better understanding by New Zealanders of the dangers of drink driving,” says Ms Adams.
“It is particularly encouraging to see fewer young people being charged with and convicted of drink driving. Since 2009, the number of convictions among people under 25 has dropped 60 per cent to 5236 in 2016.
“This Government has had a strong focus on reducing drink driving, starting with the Alcohol Reform Bill which saw the biggest changes to alcohol laws in 30 years. The changes included ensuring bars close earlier, limiting alcohol promotions and requiring minors to have a parent’s express consent to drink.”
The Government has also introduced zero alcohol limits for repeat offenders and drivers aged under 20 and run ongoing public awareness campaigns. It has also made alcohol interlocks mandatory for repeat offenders – research shows interlocks reduce the reoffending rate by about 60 per cent.
“We have seen a drop in the number of people facing drink driving charges every year since 2009, but there is still more to do. Alcohol is still a major factor in fatal car crashes – research shows that at 250 micrograms per litre of breath, the current legal limit for drivers aged 20 and older, you’re still twice as likely to have a crash as a driver with zero blood alcohol.
“Fewer drink driving offences mean safer streets, so we want to ensure that everyone is making the right decisions before getting behind the wheel.”
Number of people charged with and convicted of drink driving offences
Age distribution of people convicted of drink driving
19 years and under
65 years and over
The $7 million redevelopment of Jebson Place means warmer and safer houses for the Hamilton community, Social Housing Minister Amy Adams announced today.
Work will begin later this year to build up to 71 brand new homes at the Jebson Place site in Hamilton East.
Housing New Zealand will invest around $7 million to build and retain at least 26 new homes as social housing, with the remaining 45 houses being developed by Waikato-Tainui.
“The majority of these new social housing homes will be one- and two-bedroom houses. These are the exactly the kind of homes needed to respond to Hamilton’s social housing demand, which is mostly from smaller families and adults without children,” Ms Adams says.
“The Jebson Place project is a partnership between Housing New Zealand and Waikato-Tainui. Close collaboration between Government and iwi means we can get the best outcome for the Hamilton community.”
The Jebson Place cul-de-sac will be closed and a new road will be established between Cassidy Street and Dey Street.
“All the new homes will be attractive and modern, and the mix of social and private housing will help create a healthy and vibrant community. A number of shared open spaces will also be created for the community to enjoy.
“Throughout the regions, Housing New Zealand are taking old, rundown stock and building warmer and safer houses for New Zealanders to live in.
“The 26 new social housing homes at Jebson Place are on top of the 43 houses being built as part of Housing New Zealand’s Hamilton in-fill programme, announced last month.”
Infrastructure and site works for the new homes are expected to commence later this year, and the first homes could be completed by early 2019.
Each week the Government spends more than $2.2 million on supporting 38,000 people in the wider Waikato region. Nationally, the Government will spend $2.3 billion to support more than 310,000 households with their housing costs this year.
New guides to support the family violence sector to provide consistent and effective help to victims and perpetrators are being launched today by Justice Minister Amy Adams and Social Development Minister Anne Tolley at the Family Violence Summit in Wellington.
Over 120 key players in the family violence sector are attending the Summit today to build on conversations to date about how to work together better to tackle New Zealand’s horrific rate of family violence.
“Thousands of New Zealand families are affected by family violence every day and too many of them are not getting all the help they need,” Ms Adams says.
“The current system for dealing with family violence is too fragmented so in addition to the work we’re doing to improve it, including the Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill and the Integrated Safety Response pilots, we’ve developed a framework which sets out common understanding of family violence, a clear protocol for assessing risk, and a consistent approach for supporting victims and perpetrators.
“The Risk Assessment and Management Framework aims to ensure that no matter who a victim or perpetrator approaches for help, the risks they face will be consistently identified, assessed and managed.”
Alongside the Risk Assessment and Management Framework, a guide outlining the capabilities needed by those in the family violence sector to successfully support victims, perpetrators and their families is also being launched.
“The family violence workforce is large and complex, involving government agencies, family and sexual violence specialists, NGOs and practitioners. There is a wide range of different practices and understandings, resulting in varying degrees of effectiveness,” says Mrs Tolley.
“The Workforce Capability Framework outlines the skills, knowledge and organisational support the workforce needs in order to provide an integrated, consistent and effective response to victims, perpetrators and their families.
“Both frameworks have been developed with the help of the sector, some of whom are at the Summit today. By working together we stand a much stronger chance of achieving better outcomes for victims and their families.”
Outcomes from the Summit will feed into and inform the work of the Ministerial Group on Family Violence and Sexual Violence. Sector members who could not attend the Summit are invited to give their views via an online survey.
The frameworks can be found here.