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Report: priorities for action on family violence

28 July 2006

Media Release
EMBARGOED UNTIL 11AM FRIDAY 28 JULY 2006

First report from Taskforce identifies priorities for action on family violence

The Taskforce for Action on Violence within Families First Report identifies four key areas of actions to reduce family violence.

The plan released today emphasises specific progress the Taskforce aims to achieve in improving action on leadership, changing attitudes and behaviours, ensuring safety and accountability, and effective support services.

Work within each of the four major areas is already underway and was funded in various initiatives within Budget 2006.

The Taskforce for Action on Violence within Families was established in June 2005 at Chief Executive level to support the Family Violence Ministerial Team.

The Taskforce provides a forum for the government and non-government sectors, the judiciary, the Children's Commissioner and the Families Commission to come together and set the strategic direction for family violence prevention in New Zealand.

"This is the first time decision-makers from the government and non-government sector, the judiciary and Crown agencies have come together to address this problem. This combined strength means we can move quickly on a range of fronts to improve services and learning so more families can be safe from violence," said Taskforce Chair Peter Hughes.

The vision of the Taskforce underpinning its programme of work is that: All families and whanau have healthy respectful stable relationships free from violence.

The immediate work in each of the four action areas is outlined below.

Leadership

The Taskforce will provide the overall leadership for the programme of action. The Taskforce membership goes beyond inter-government agencies to ensure the involvement of non-government agencies working in the area of family violence.

The Taskforce has also worked with a wider group to ensure input across the breadth of family violence work within New Zealand.

The fact that the Taskforce has been able to work successfully and agree on a programme of action is witness to its ability to collaborate at a high level. By involving Chief Executives in the Taskforce decision-making is effective and improvements can be implemented quickly.

The Taskforce will meet regularly until June 2007 when it will review its role, assess the year's work and look to the future. The Taskforce is mindful that it is important to learn from all the work across the sector.

Changing Attitudes and Behaviour

The campaign will be long-term and be targeted at changing the attitudes and behaviour of perpetrators, those who influence them, and those who challenge them. The campaign will also address the needs of victims. The government is providing $11.5 million over the next four years to run the campaign.

The national public education and awareness campaign will resemble the SKIP model which provides resources and training to community groups who work at the grass roots with parents.

A process to review family violence-related deaths will be implemented. Just under half of the 61 murders in 2005 were recorded as family violence-related but at the moment there is no overall mechanism to examine them systematically. An on-going process for reviewing these deaths will be implemented by June 2007.

Ensuring Safety and Accountability

Improvements are being made to the way Police, Courts, CYF and Corrections work together to keep victims and their families safe and ensure there is easy access to the support needed. At the same time perpetrators will be better held to account and steps to reduce re-offending will be strengthened.

Dedicated Family Violence Courts will be established in Wellington and Auckland. Access to protection orders by victims will be enhanced and effective action taken against offenders who fail to attend court-ordered therapeutic courses.

>From 1 March 2007, the threshold for eligibility to legal aid for Orders under the Domestic Violence Act will be increased. This will see a 40 percent increase in the pool of people eligible for legal aid, to approximately 1.2 million people.

A new nationwide scheme to better support children affected by family violence will be established and rolled-out from September 2006. Building on current local case coordination initiatives in Hamilton, Wairarapa, Gisborne and other areas, the scheme will involve regular meetings between Police, Child, Youth and Family and community agencies to review and coordinate how local family violence cases are managed.

Effective Support Services

It is important that victims of family violence receive effective and appropriate services when they need them. A wide range of these services are provided by non-government agencies. The government's Budget 06 invested $9 million over the next four years to build capability in the sector.

Through the Taskforce and the groups they consult, further work will be undertaken in the area of building and maintaining non-government sector capability including steps to identify the true cost of family violence and support services.

"The Taskforce believes a real difference can be made in the next year by focusing on the priorities we have collectively identified. All New Zealanders deserve the right to live free of violence," said Peter Hughes.


A copy of the Taskforce for Action on Violence within Families First Report is available at www.msd.govt.nz


ENDS

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