Safer Sooner: Strengthening family violence laws

The Government today announced changes to the law resulting from the Government’s review of family violence laws.

The changes will improve how we respond to family violence to keep victims safe and stop perpetrators using violence. The reforms span the civil and criminal law and are designed to ensure the law is forward looking.

The review is part of the wider Ministerial Group work programme on family violence and sexual violence which is co-chaired by the Minister of Justice and Minister for Social Development. Public consultation on the review attracted nearly 500 submissions which have helped inform these changes.

“In particular, the changes focus on intervening as soon as possible to help victims, deal with perpetrators, and make sure children’s lives are not blighted in a spiral of violence,” Ms Adams says.

“Many victims suffer repeated abuse. Often perpetrators’ violent acts are an ongoing pattern of behaviour. We know that one percent of adults experience 61 percent of all violent offences committed by an intimate partner.

“This shows how important it is to take action to make people safer sooner and prevent future violence.

“The changes have the potential to significantly reduce family violence in New Zealand. The increase in protection orders and the introduction of new offences alone are expected to prevent 2,300 violent offences each year.”

Key changes the Government has announced include:

  • creating new family violence offences, including non-fatal strangulation
  • removing barriers to protection orders by making it easier to apply and allowing others to apply on a victim’s behalf
  • making safety the primary consideration in all bail decisions and central to parenting and property orders
  • using Police safety orders as an opportunity to assess risk and needs and connect perpetrators to services
  • creating a pathway for at-risk families to a service provider to carry out risk and needs assessment so they don’t have to go to court to get help
  • flagging all family violence offending to ensure prior behaviour is clearly identified and to ensure that family violence cases are treated as such
  • freeing up information sharing to keep people safe
  • introducing codes of practice
  • giving courts more information and powers.

Hon Amy Adams, Minister of Justice, will introduce a Bill to Parliament in the coming months. There will be an opportunity for public comment on details of the proposed law when the Bill is considered at Select Committee.

For more information about the law changes see the Minister’s news release(external link) or our webpage Reducing family and sexual violence

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