First Family Court Survey report
EMBARGOED UNTIL 8 June 2017
THE BACKBONE COLLECTIVE
FIRST FAMILY COURT SURVEY REPORT
Royal Commission of Inquiry desperately needed into functioning of the New Zealand Family Court
Backbone answers Prime Minister’s call for external link to real service users’ feedback
Women tell Backbone the Family Court puts them and their children in more danger
The Backbone Collective was established three months ago and is voluntarily staffed by Deborah Mackenzie and Ruth Herbert. It is an independent body taking action to change NZ’s alarming violence-against-women statistics (domestic and sexual violence and abuse being the most prevalent forms in NZ) by examining the present response system through the eyes of its users - women who have experienced violence and abuse.
“Backbone is not-for-profit and is working outside of government to enable women who have experienced violence and/or abuse to have their say about how the system that responds to them can work better - to make them safer and help them rebuild their lives,” says Ruth Herbert, one of Backbone’s founders.
“When we launched we were inundated with registrations from women from all over New Zealand. Our membership has swelled to over 800 members in just three months. Women obviously want to tell those in authority where the system is failing them”, says Deborah Mackenzie.
Backbone released its first Watchdog Report ‘All Eyes on the Family Court ‘early April 2017 based on questions from 10 Backbone members about the Family Court. At the time of releasing the report Backbone opened a survey to New Zealand women who have experienced violence and abuse to find out more about the Family Court. Over 600 women took part in the survey and 496 of those women have been involved in Family Court proceedings.
Backbone is releasing its first Family Court Survey report ‘Out of the Frying Pan and into the Fire’ publicly today.
“We were really relieved to hear the Prime Minister announce yesterday at the Family Violence Summit in Wellington that the Government needs to and wants to hear how the people that use its services are finding them.
In his opening address Bill English said: “Any discussion we have about a public service has to be focused on the people for whom the service exists – that is not the provider, not the agency and not the Minister.” So we are really pleased that we can answer that call so quickly and comprehensively. Our report shares with those in authority what nearly 500 women have to say about the Family Court” says Deborah Mackenzie.
Backbone is pleased that the Government acknowledges the lack of trust that exists between service users and that those in authority see the need for independent organisations like Backbone to shine the light on issues they themselves cannot see. Prime Minister English said: “There is just a whole lot of things that policy makers do know that other people don’t know about how public policy works, but there are a whole lot of things we just can’t know and we need that external pressure – it is a vital source of change.”
Women have told Backbone loudly and clearly that when they go to the Family Court seeking protection after leaving an abusive partner their situation and that of their children is made worse not better. This is of enormous concern and requires urgent attention by all those in authority.
“Read the report and see for yourselves – action is required right now. Women and children are telling us they need change urgently for their safety. The number of women raising serious issues with the Family Court signals that greater investigation is needed and the only safe and appropriate way that investigation can happen is through a Royal Commission of Inquiry – that is the only responsible step Government can take based on the information contained in this report.” says Ruth Herbert co-founder of Backbone.
Register as a member who has experienced violence or abuse at https://www.backbone.org.nz/contact/
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