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Women Lose Faith in DVA

Media statement – for immediate release 28 March 2006

Women Lose Faith in DVA

Women are losing confidence in the Domestic Violence Act being an effective tool to protect them from the violence of partners and ex-partners, family violence experts say.

Brian Gardner, national manager of National Network of Stopping Violence Services said New Zealand's DVA leads the world but its implementation is failing victims.

Chief Family Court Judge Boshier acknowledged yesterday that the DVA is failing to protect women and children.

"When women find that getting a protection order could cost them $1500, that the Judge may be reluctant to grant an order, that Police may be reluctant to charge when a protection order is breeched it is not surprising that it all feels too hard and they give up on seeking a legal means of protection," Mr Gardner said.

"A piece of paper from the court was never going to stop some women being murdered by partners or ex partners, protection orders are only as good as the justice system that supports them."

Mr Gardner said the DVA breaks down in its implementation:

• 50% of men sent to programmes fail to turn up
• many women cannot afford legal support to gain protection orders despite legal aid
• protection orders granted immediately have fallen by almost a quarter
• referrals to programmes for men who use violence have fallen 41% between 1998 and 2005.

"We are still seeing individual Judges and Police who see domestic violence as a relationship issue not men using violence to get what they want. This undermines the safety of women and children and allows men to get away with it.

"The Justice system is a last resort and it needs to be effective."

The National Network is the umbrella organisation for agencies which run programmes for men who want to change their behaviour and for women and children who are or have been victims of domestic violence.

Mr Gardner said ultimately domestic violence is a community problem and won't be prevented until the message to perpetrators is that it's unacceptable and they won't get away with it.


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