Legislation that overhauls the family violence system has been introduced to Parliament.
The Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill will update the Domestic Violence Act, amend six more Acts and make consequential changes to over 30 pieces of law.
It implements the decisions announced by the Government in September 2016 aimed at breaking the pattern of family violence and reducing the harm and cost inflicted on those who suffer violence and the wider New Zealand society.
Key provisions of the bill include:
- Getting help to those in need without them necessarily having to go to court
- Ensuring all family violence is clearly identified and risk information is properly shared
- Putting the safety of victims at the heart of bail decisions
- Creating three new offences of strangulation, coercion to marry and assault on a family member
- Making it easier to apply for a Protection Order, allowing others to apply on a victim’s behalf, and better providing for the rights of children under protection orders
- Making evidence gathering in family violence cases easier for Police and less traumatic for victims
- Wider range of programmes able to be ordered when a Protection Order is imposed
- Making offending while on a Protection Order a specific aggravating factor in sentencing
- Supporting an effective system of information sharing across all those dealing with family violence
Justice Minister Amy Adams says the bill is a core part of reducing New Zealand’s high rate of family violence.
“It’s undeniable that one of the most concerning and most difficult social issues facing New Zealand is our unacceptably high rate of family violence. Part of this is the ingrained and insidious nature of the problem. But it’s also in the fact that there’s no easy or quick fix,” she says.
“To properly tackle family violence we need to create an effective, integrated system for addressing it. We need a system that acts early to stop perpetrators hurting their families, protects victims, and breaks the cycle of re-offending.
“The omnibus Family and Whānau Violence Bill is an important part of building a new way of dealing with family violence. It implements our Safer Sooner reforms announced in September 2016 aimed at breaking the pattern of family violence and reducing the harm and cost inflicted on those who suffer violence and on the wider New Zealand society,” Ms Adams.
“These reforms will strengthen family violence laws and build the legal framework necessary to deliver the wider component of the work programme.”
The Ministry of Justice produced a regulatory impact statement on 3 August 2016 to help inform the main policy decisions taken by the Government relating to the contents of the bill.