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Halting Family Violence Is An Election Issue

Six national organisations that work with the impact of family violence are canvassing political parties about how they will act to stop family violence.

The six agencies are Women's Refuge, Rape Crisis, Relationship Services, Barnardos, Child Abuse Prevention Services (CAPS) and the National Network of Stopping Violence Services As well as working with the impact of violence against women and children, these agencies work together to discuss and develop strategies to address violence.

'In August 1999 the NZ Herald reported that domestic violence cost the country $3 billion a year. We believe that this figure is an underestimate, and want to know how political parties are aiming to reduce family violence in the new millennium' the group said. Barnardos believes that over 300,000 children in New Zealand are affected by family violence each year. Despite the intentions of the Domestic Violence Act, there is still legislation and government policy that works against stopping family violence.

Changes to the legal aid rules announced recently will reduce access to protection orders. Women seeking advice from lawyers about protection orders may be forced to make compromises that increase the risk of violence to themselves and their children.

The Home Invasion Act increases penalties for strangers committing violent crimes in a home - yet most violent crimes in the home are committed by people legally entitled to be there. Section 59 of the Crimes Act gives parents licence to physically punish their children.

The six agencies urge all candidates to be aware of these anomalies and support legislation and policies that work towards preventing family violence. The government of the new millennium must be committed to stopping family violence.

ENDS....

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