Sweeping reforms to family violence legislation has been announced by Justice Minister Amy Adams.

The reforms will see an overhaul of the 20-year old Domestic Violence Act that will put ‘early and effective intervention’ at the centre of its focus.

A significant public investment has been made by government –  $132 million over four years.

These changes include:

  • getting help to those in need without them 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 Orders, allowing others to apply on a victim’s behalf, and better providing for the rights of children under Protection Orders
  • providing for supervised handovers and aligning Care of Children orders to the family violence regime
  • making evidence gathering in family violence cases easier for Police and less traumatic for victims
  • wider range of programmes able to be ordered when Protection Order imposed
  • making offending while on a Protection Order a specific aggravating factor in sentencing
  • enabling the setting of codes of practice across the sector.

Minister Adams says “These changes are the beginning of a new integrated system but on their own have the potential to significantly reduce family violence. Changes to protection orders and the new offences alone are expected to prevent about 2300 violent incidents each year.”

The gravity of this societal problem on individuals, community and society and its inter-generational nature is now well understood.

Comments by the National Addiction Centre Director Doug Sellman, provide a reminder however that we also need to understand the drivers of violence.

Sellman draws on evidence identified by the Law Commission in its review of alcohol laws that demonstrates alcohol is a major contributory factor to family violence and that any long term solution needs to involve a reform of alcohol laws.

In NZCCSS’ submission on the review of domestic violence legislation, the underlying drivers of violence in homes and communities were also considered, alongside the inter-relationship between victim and perpetrator of domestic violence and the need for services to support both parties to make positive change.

While family violence is experienced and redressed at a personal level, it also occurs within a social context. An effective strategy to reduce family violence must also include a whole of society conversation about what is a safe and resilient relationship and family? and what are the social conditions and values that support this?  


How to move beyond family violence – John Campbell interviews Vic Tamati (it’s not ok campaign) about his programme Safe Men Safe Families.