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First Family Safety Teams launched

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Justice

18 July 2005

Media statement

First Family Safety Teams launched

The first two of four Family Safety Teams aimed at reducing family violence was launched in Wellington today, with a week-long induction workshop getting underway.

Justice Minister Phil Goff and Child Youth and Family Minister Ruth Dyson both spoke at the launch, and Police Minister George Hawkins also attended.

The $14.9 million, four-year Family Safety Team pilot has been set up to provide greater coordination between agencies responding to family violence situations.

It is a joint initiative involving Police, Ministry of Justice and Child Youth and Family Services in partnership with the National Collective of Independent Women¡¦s Refuges, Child Abuse Prevention Services, and the National Network of Stopping Violence Services.

The first two teams are being established in Wairarapa/Hutt Valley and Auckland/Hamilton. Further teams will be formed next year in Christchurch and Counties Manukau. Each 10-member team will include a supervisor, three police investigators, three adult victim advocates and three child victim advocates.

"Family violence is a serious social issue in New Zealand, and Police statistics show that almost half of all reported violent incidents, and half of all murders, involve family members," Mr Goff said.

"At the same time, a lack of co-ordination and information sharing between agencies has been identified as a critical factor in high-profile domestic deaths over the past decade, such as those of James Whakaruru and Saliel Aplin and Olympia Jetson.

"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 Safety Teams will address those gaps. Their key objectives will be to:
„h Establish a system that ensures agencies coordinate, communicate and collaborate more effectively;
„h Provide families experiencing violence with more comprehensive and integrated interventions;
„h Develop national best practice.

"The teams will initially focus on high-risk situations and build on existing collaborative practices in their local areas.

"They will assess the full context of each case before deciding how each agency can best address the harm caused, protect the victims and other family members, and take steps to reduce the chances of a repeat incident.

"Offenders will continue to be prosecuted, and referrals to CYF and to sexual abuse teams will still be used where appropriate.

"However the holistic approach of the teams will also result in families making greater use of existing support services and assistance, such as protection orders, counselling, and help from Work and Income.

"This pilot underlines the government's commitment to strengthening public services.

"Increasing support and providing a safer environment will help build stronger, better-functioning families, and lead to a reduction in family violence and related crimes," Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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