An overhaul of the Domestic Violence Act is being welcomed by a Bay of Plenty MP.
Todd Muller is welcoming the introduction of The Family and Whanau Violence Legislation Bill to overhaul the Domestic Violence Act and amend five Acts and make consequential changes to over thirty pieces of legislation.
“In New Zealand we have an unacceptably high rate of family violence. This Government is drawing a line in the sand and making it clear that enough in enough. This needs to end,” says Todd.
“Family violence is one of the most difficult and challenging social issues we face as a nation. While the Government acknowledges that there is no quick fix, we are looking to make changes that will provide a framework to break this vicious cycle.”
Todd says it destroys families, deeply impacts our young, and takes up more than half of our police time.
“We need a system that allows us to act early, protects victims, and breaks the cycle of reoffending to stop the perpetrators hurting their families.”
The reforms will strengthen family violence laws in New Zealand significantly, and are an important first step in building a strong legal framework to keep communities safe, says Todd.
Justice Minister Amy Adams says family violence is one of the most concerning and difficult social issues facing the country, partly because of the ingrained and insidious nature of the problem, but also because there is no easy or quick fix.
“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.
“These reforms will strengthen family violence laws and build the legal framework necessary to deliver the wider component of the work programme.”
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
• enabling the setting of codes of practice across the sector.