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Reinstating family court counselling to help violence issues

Reinstating family court counselling could help address family violence issues

A reinstatement of family court counselling could help mitigate the harrowing family violence statistics in the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse report released on Tuesday.

The New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC) president, Robyn McGill, says specialised counselling could help resolve anger issues in couples and families before they reach “boiling point”.

“It’s important to reach those susceptible to lashing out before the violence ensues, rather than dealing with it after the fact,” she says.

“That’s the way to ensure families and communities are safe in their own homes, and that’s where family court counselling could really make a difference.”

The report states that more than 100,000 cases of family violence were reported nationwide last year, and there were more than 5,000 applications made for protection orders.

Free family court counselling was replaced with the Family Disputes Resolution mediation scheme last year, which is “far less accessible” to those who need it most, says Ms McGill.

“Some people might qualify for funding, but basically people have to pay a fee for this service,” she says.

“You can’t put a price on the safety and wellbeing of our communities – but that’s exactly what the government has done in removing a free service which could help address the distressing amount of family violence in our country.”

Ms McGill says specialised domestic violence counselling, with counsellors who are trained in the area, could also provide longer term solutions to family issues, as opposed to a protection order.

“Although this ensures the immediate safety of the complainant, it’s a quick-fix which doesn’t deal with the offender’s behaviour,” she says.

“Early intervention counselling with counsellors who have expertise in the family violence area could mean the difference between issues being dealt with healthily, and another case added to the pile that’s already far too high.”


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