People’s Blueprint Offers Solutions to Family Violence
28 November 2014
People’s Blueprint Offers Powerful Solutions to Family Violence
New Zealand has a fresh opportunity to reduce child abuse and family violence and save and restore lives under a powerful new model for combating the problem proposed by the Glenn Inquiry.
The People’s Blueprint unveiled today by Sir Owen Glenn’s independent inquiry into child abuse and domestic violence outlines a new, more cohesive and effective system for reducing New Zealand’s alarmingly high family violence rates.
The Blueprint’s set of initiatives and reform reaches across all layers of society to build momentum for change among individuals, families and communities through to political leaders, state agencies and institutions.
It combines the insights of people directly affected by abuse and the knowledge gained from extensive research and academic application into a clear plan to achieve transformative change.
It draws on contributions from sector and systems experts, as well as people at the frontline, to propose a way to transform the current system, culture, leadership and services.
It is grounded in the stories of the 500 people who contributed to the first stage of the Inquiry’s work, The People’s Report, which highlighted the weaknesses and strengths in the current system.
The Blueprint identifies the essential elements of a framework capable of supporting policies and measures that can solve New Zealand’s big family violence problem, at the national, regional and programme levels.
It promotes a “whole system” approach to replace the current patchwork which has failed to dent the statistics.
The Blueprint aims to integrate. It proposes measures to get all parts of the system - from the classroom to the courtroom - working cohesively and collaboratively, harnessing knowledge from sound data and evaluation.
It promotes prevention and education campaigns to shift the culture so New Zealand adopts zero tolerance to violence, is child focused and upholds the basic human right to be safe from violence.
Features of the new system include:
• A new stand-alone operational agency to implement a long-term national family violence strategy and an investment approach to funding. It coordinates and monitors operations through the prevention, response, recovery and advocacy services. It is also responsible for enacting a code of rights for those affected by family violence.
• A “One Family: One Judge” Family Violence Court System. An integrated treatment court within the District Court, it straddles the civil and criminal jurisdictions to deal with all matters involving allegations of family violence. It has specialist judges with powers to impose and monitor an extended range of treatment and protection orders, treating families as well as individuals. It takes an inquisitorial approach and all its staff are specially trained.
• A national intervention programme that includes screening, case management for high risk cases and development of a centralised database to ensure better inter-agency collaboration and service coordination.
• A national
prevention campaign featuring sustained national public
• Tighter alcohol laws to reduce heavy drinking’s contribution to abuse and violence.
• An investment approach to services for prevention, response, recovery and advocacy which leads to more reliable funding for community service providers and encourages innovation.
• A well-equipped workforce to deal with the complexities of family violence by requiring comprehensive training for all relevant professionals and practitioners such as teachers, lawyers and mental health workers.
• A strategic research and evaluation plan to better measure the scale of the problem and determine whether programmes and interventions are working.
• Free long-term counselling for survivors of child abuse and family violence.
• More peer-based non-violence programmes for perpetrators.
• Strengthening the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990 and the Human Rights Act 1993 to make explicit the right to be safe from violence.
• A new waiver to the Privacy Act 1993 so the principle permitting the sharing of personal information for the maintenance of law applies when there is a family violence allegation.
• Electronic tagging to make protection orders more than a piece of paper.
• Strengthening leadership starting with a cross-party agreement and assigning the Family Violence portfolio to the Prime Minister or Deputy Prime Minister.
Inquiry chairman Bill Wilson QC says some measures may appear bold but many solutions have been staring New Zealand in the face for a long time. This particularly applies to the need to tighten lax liquor laws that have served only to fuel violence, and to properly fund, connect and evaluate services doing the heavy lifting at the front line.
“We know New Zealanders care about the country’s appalling statistics in this area. For instance family violence was named the No 1 concern by voters in five of the Maori electorates in opinion polls just before the 2014 election,” Mr Wilson said.
“The People’s Blueprint offers an evidence-backed way to translate those concerns into action with policies that are achievable, while also ensuring the system is respectful, responsive and trusted and able to prevent as well as treat family violence.”
Mr Wilson believes a big debt of gratitude is owed to Sir Owen Glenn for founding and funding the Inquiry, and for having the conviction to stand by its work and ensure its independence.
He says the Blueprint fills a policy vacuum successive governments have struggled to fill.
“It is clear to me that fresh, independent thinking has been needed to address a seemingly intractable problem, and Sir Owen correctly identified that,” Mr Wilson said.
“The challenge now is for all political leaders to unify around the goal of eliminating family violence, and they can start by embracing the fresh, potentially life-saving thinking in this Blueprint.”