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Labour’s family violence programme in trouble

Labour’s family violence programme in trouble

A pilot programme designed to overcome a lack of cooperation between agencies that respond to family violence is off to a shaky start due to a lack of collaboration, says National’s Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

An independent evaluation of the first 12 months of the Family Safety Teams pilot, which was designed to provide a coordinated local response to family violence, points to:

A lack of collaboration and information-sharing between the agencies – Police, Ministry of Justice, and Child, Youth and Family.

A high turnover of staff and long periods before vacancies are filled.

Suggestions that victims are not taken seriously by some police, and delays in obtaining protection orders.

“Family Safety Teams were established by Labour in response to the Children’s Commissioner’s investigation into the murders of Saliel Aplin and Olympia Jetson in the Wairarapa, which recommended improved inter-agency communication and coordination.

“So how did something that was supposed to achieve collaboration founder, because the agencies wouldn’t collaborate?

“Bureaucratic patch-protection must not get in the way of saving the lives of vulnerable children. Nothing could be more important.

“Also of concern is the fact that a year after the evaluation period, high turnover of staff and long vacancies were still an issue, with eight out of the 40 positions on teams unfilled and some for as long as six months.

“That appears to back up the general finding that overall support for the programme was variable within team members’ home agencies.

“And it’s suspicious that the evaluation report was actually completed on 31 August 2006, but was only publicly released in June, nearly two years later, after the Ministry added a 12-page summary, and only after an Official Information Act request from National.

“I wonder if this report would have remained ‘an internal working document’, as the Ministry has described it, if it had not been so critical of government policy?

“The Labour Government argues that more people are reporting family violence because they feel their problems will be taken seriously.

“But how can victims have such confidence when it’s clear from this report that Labour’s flagship policy to improve responses to family violence has failed in its primary purpose.”


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