New Zealand has the highest reported rate of intimate partner violence in the developed world, and if that isn’t hard hitting enough, only 20% of cases are reported to Police. This suggests what we read in official reports only scratches a very large surface.
What sits underneath family violence is complex and multi-faceted and cannot be reduced to one single factor. Nevertheless, NZCCSS agencies report increasing family violence and financial stress within families. Financial stress may not be the cause but it can certainly exacerbate already vulnerable situations.
“Equally disturbing, particularly in Waikato and the Central North Island .. a rise in domestic violence as families come under immense pressure from redundancies or simply the inability to cope with rent increases on subsistence incomes… For those earning the least, it only takes an unexpected cost or two or a redundancy to lose your accommodation, your credit rating, your good tenancy record, and then become effectively homeless“. Salvation Army. Vulnerability Report. 21st Edition 2015
The Ministry of Justice is currently consulting on better family violence law. The public discussion document covers a range of issues in five parts: understanding family violence, victim safety, prosecuting family violence perpetrators, an additional pathway to safety, and better services for victims, perpetrators and whānau. After the consultation period, Ministry of Justice officials will provide policy options to the Justice Minister.
Sitting above this piece of work is the Ministerial Group on Family Violence and Sexual Violence. A recent Cabinet paper to the Social Policy Committee on progress on work to ‘coo-ordinate and align whole of government approach”, raises concerns about service system fragmentation, duplication of roles and services and spending ($1.4 billion a year) not always aligned with effectiveness or client need. What this new ‘systems approach’ will mean for NGO services working in this space is not clear at this point but no doubt all will be revealed soon.