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Fresh look at family violence laws

Hon Amy Adams

Minister of Justice
5 August 2015 Media statement


Fresh look at family violence laws


A discussion document launched today takes a hard look at the way the law prevents and responds to family violence, and proposes a comprehensive rethink to strengthen New Zealand’s legislative response.

The discussion document was launched by Justice Minister Amy Adams in Auckland today.

“Combating family violence is my top priority. The rate of family violence in New Zealand is horrific. While the Government has a comprehensive work programme underway, I think the law can do more to reduce the incidence and impact of family violence,” says Ms Adams.

“This review won’t shy away from taking a hard look at our laws and raising some challenging questions. The reality is if we want different outcomes we have to be prepared to do things differently.

The law underpins our response to family violence, so we need to make sure the broad set of laws that apply to family violence are effective and work well together.

The discussion document raises a number of starters for discussion, including:

• establishing a set of standalone family violence offences

• creating an additional pathway for victims, perpetrators and whānau who want help to stop violence, but don’t want to have to go to court

• ideas about improving the accessibility and effectiveness of protection orders

• doing a better job of sharing information where family violence concerns arise between agencies and within the courts

• considering compelling police action in certain circumstances such as requiring mandatory arrest for all breaches of protection orders

• more prominence to victim safety in related legislation like the Care of Children Act and bail and sentencing law.

"When it was passed in 1995, the Domestic Violence Act was world-leading. It set out a clear response to family violence and distinguished it from other forms of crimes. While successive Governments have modified it over the years, it’s time for a rethink,” says Ms Adams.

“Laws are not the whole picture. We can’t legislate our way out of this. But our laws are a cornerstone element in how we respond to family violence.

“This Government is committed to better addressing the high rate of family violence. The home should be a safe place for all women, children, and men and we want to do our best to protect victims from re-victimisation.

“This review is just one part of government work toward a coordinated, integrated and efficient response to family violence and sexual violence and is a central part of the cross-government package announced last year by Prime Minister John Key.”

The public consultation opens today at https://consultations.justice.govt.nz/policy/family-violence-law and runs until 18 September.

ends

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