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Labour lets down domestic violence victims

Kate Wilkinson MP
National Party Associate Justice Spokeswoman

12 March 2008

Labour lets down domestic violence victims

National’s Associate Justice spokeswoman, Kate Wilkinson, says victims of domestic violence in many parts of New Zealand are failing to get access to justice because of problems in the legal aid system.

“It is just not acceptable that our legal system is letting women down at a time when they are most vulnerable.”

Ms Wilkinson today travelled to Nelson to meet with the Nelson Women’s Centre, Rape Crisis, Law Society, Community Law Centre, and Police over the risk in victims being unable to get domestic protection orders because of a shortage of family legal aid lawyers.

“We’ve got the appalling situation of women in crisis being pushed from pillar to post, being unable to get service.

“They phone Nelson lawyers, get referred to the Legal Services Agency in Christchurch, only to be referred back to the same Nelson lawyers. Agencies in Nelson are telling me that two or three women a week are missing out on domestic protection orders because of this crisis.

“This is not just a Nelson problem. It was highlighted in Blenheim more than 18 months ago and is now causing problems in regions like Manawatu, Central Otago, and Timaru. My worry is that an unnecessary tragedy might arise from this justice system failure.

“We have seen in the past year a 37% increase in family domestic violence in Nelson. This problem needs urgent attention as well as a long-term solution for New Zealand.”

ENDS

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