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Areas chosen for Family Safety Team pilot

Hon Phil Goff Minister of Justice

31 August 2004

Areas chosen for Family Safety Team pilot

A pilot programme aimed at reducing domestic violence will see Family Safety Teams established in Wairarapa/Hutt Valley, Auckland/Hamilton, Christchurch, and Counties Manukau, Justice Minister Phil Goff said today.

The Wairarapa/Hutt Valley and Auckland/Hamilton teams will begin operating next February, with the other teams being rolled out in the 2005/2006 and 2006/2007 financial years.

"This initiative addresses concerns raised by those working in the family violence area, and by reports into the deaths of James Whakaruru and Saliel Aplin and Olympia Jetson, that the current response to violence is fragmented and uncoordinated," Mr Goff said.

"Frequently, agencies that are working with one family member are not aware of information held by another agency in relation to the same family that may be of direct relevance. For example, child protection agencies often assess risk to a particular child without knowing that there has been a history of family violence and considerable prior Police involvement with the child's family.

"Family Safety Teams are a pilot programme aimed at providing a multi-disciplinary response to family violence.

"It is a joint initiative between the Police, Ministry of Justice and Department of Child, Youth and Family. It will involve police, and advocates for adult and child victims working together to ensure that the full range of needs for a family experiencing family violence are addressed.

"In each case, a team will decide how to best address the problem, protect the victims, and reduce the chance of repeat incidents.

"The teams will also ensure that greater use is made of existing services that can help at-risk families, such as protection orders, counselling and help from Work and Income.

"The teams will continue to make referrals where appropriate to the police and Child, Youth and Family, and to work closely with child abuse and sexual abuse teams.

"The key outcomes for Family safety Teams will be to: Put in place a system where agencies coordinate, communicate and collaborate more effectively; Provide families experiencing violence with more comprehensive and integrated interventions; Develop national best practice.

"While family violence reports may initially increase with greater awareness of effective services, the initiative is expected to reduce family violence.

"The new services will focus on high-risk situations and put in place preventive measures." Mr Goff said the four sites had been chosen by a steering committee comprising representatives of relevant government agencies and the non-government agencies Women’s Refuge, Stopping Violence Services, Child Abuse Prevention Services, and Northern Regional Advisory Group.

The committee had considered where the teams would have the best chance of making an impact, either because of high levels of family violence, or because they could build on existing collaborative practices, such as those already established in Hamilton, Auckland city, and the Hutt Valley.

Funding of $15.2 million over four years was made available in this year's Budget, and the teams' work will be evaluated over a three-year period.

ENDS


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