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Budget 2004: Safety Teams address family violence

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Justice

Hon George Hawkins
Minister of Police

Hon Ruth Dyson
Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services

22 May 2004
Budget 2004

Media Statement

Family Safety Teams to address family violence


A pilot scheme aimed at improving responses to family violence is being funded in Budget 2004, Justice Minister Phil Goff, Police Minister George Hawkins and Child, Youth and Family Services Minister Ruth Dyson announced today.

The government has set aside $14.9 million over four years for the creation of four Family Safety Teams to provide a collaborative approach to dealing with family violence issues.

Each team will consist of a supervisor, three police investigators, and three adult and three child victim advocates. Two national coordinators will also be appointed.

“Several reports, such as those into the death of James Whakaruru and Saliel Aplin and Olympia Jetson, highlighted concerns about the fragmented and narrow nature of responses to family violence," Mr Goff said.

"Currently, separate agencies deal with the perpetrators, child victims and adult victims of family violence. Frequently agencies working with one family member are not aware of information held by another agency that might have had a direct influence on a planned course of action.

"Family violence experts have been calling for improvements in family violence prevention through formal systems to support more effective coordination and collaboration between agencies. Family Safety Teams will provide that consistency."

Mr Hawkins said the pilot did not mean offenders would escape prosecution for assaulting family members.

"Referrals to CYF will also continue to be used where appropriate, while the teams will continue to work closely with child abuse and sexual abuse teams.

"However the safety teams will assess the full context of each case before deciding how relevant agencies can best address the harm caused, protect the victims and other family members, and take steps to reduce the chances of a repeat incident by restoring the well-being of the family.

"It is also expected their work will result in families making greater use of existing services and assistance, such as protection orders, counselling, and help from Work and Income," Mr Hawkins said.

Ms Dyson said the pilot underlined the government's commitment to strengthening public services so that all New Zealanders can live safely and free from violence.

"Taking a more holistic approach to family violence will result in increased support for families and safer environments for family members. That in turn will help build stronger, better-functioning families, and lead to a reduction in family violence and related crimes," Ms Dyson said.

The first two Family Safety Teams will begin work in January 2005, and the third and fourth teams will be established in the first quarter of the 2005 and 2006 financial years respectively. An evaluation of the pilot's effectiveness will be done over a three-year period.

ENDS

All Phil Goff’s media releases and speeches are posted at www.beehive.govt.nz

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