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Multiple factors at play in family violence



Multiple factors at play in family violence

The Families Commission welcomes the release of the report ‘Measuring the Economic Costs of Child Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence in New Zealand’ as another opportunity to highlight the significant toll family violence takes on our society.

Families Commissioner Jo-anne Wilkinson says that the costs of family violence are high and cumulative over time.

“The costs are primarily borne by individuals and families in terms of pain and suffering and then by society in terms of lost productivity,” says Ms Wilkinson.

“We must intervene early and effectively because the payoff will be significant.

“Evidence from our work and from overseas research¹ shows that family violence is a complex issue. It can be understood and dealt with most effectively by looking at it from a ‘socio-ecological’ perspective. This means that there are multiple factors that influence and cause violence, ranging from the individual and family to community and society.”

Ms Wilkinson says that responses to prevent and address family violence need to span all parts of society and all sectors including the public and private sectors.

“There’s no point having the perfect response in one sector only. Unfortunately, there’s no ‘one measure fixes all’ solution.”

The evidence suggests that a comprehensive, well-designed continuum of responses to family violence should include:
• Prevention – interventions aimed at everyone in society that prevent violence from occurring in the first place and specific interventions that target particular at-risk groups; and
• Immediate responses – services that provide support to victims immediately and hold perpetrators to account and change their behaviour; and
• Longer term responses – helping rebuild lives and prevent recurrence of violence.
This leads to the next issue: how to best to assess the effectiveness of multiple solutions to prevent family violence.

“While a lot of research and evaluation has focused on the effectiveness of individual solutions and programmes, relatively little is known about the best mix and spread of solutions that may be necessary across the system, and in particular how to measure the effectiveness of the overall response,” says Ms Wilkinson.

This is where the Families Commission comes in. It works across the social sector to promote the use of evidence so that better decisions can be made – about funding, policies or services – to improve the lives of families, whānau and communities in New Zealand.

1. Beyond zero tolerance – Families Commission (2005); World Health Organisation reports (WHO)(2002, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010); VicHealth (2009).


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