Together, we can turn the tide on family violence
In light of New Zealand having the worst domestic violence rate in the developed world, we've been asking what you think needs to change in our country to stop the cycle of violence that entraps so many Kiwis.
Several readers have shared their thoughts and personal experiences of domestic violence, prompting Minister of Justice Amy Adams to join the debate...
New Zealand has a shocking level of family violence.
The home should be a safe place, but by many measures New Zealand's rate of family violence remains horrifically and persistently high.
We have the highest reported rate of intimate partner violence in the developed world and the fifth highest reported rate of child abuse.
On average, 29 people are killed in family violence incidents each year and last year police investigated a family violence incident every five minutes. Worryingly, this is only the tip of the iceberg, as research suggests that most incidents aren't reported to police at all.
As a nation, we need to put a stop to family violence in all its forms.
We need to speak out about the violence in our homes and our neighbourhoods. We need to challenge the ways our culture allows or condones the degradation of women or girls.
Reducing our horrific rates of family violence is my number one priority. Clearly New Zealanders consider this a priority too.
I'm buoyed by the conversations going on here in Stuff Nation and the truly national conversation we're beginning to have around combating this insidious epidemic.
I also take heart from the response to the review of family violence laws that I launched last year. I announced that the Government would be taking a comprehensive look at our family violence laws.
OPTIONS FOR CHANGE
The review is exploring issues such as whether we need a set of standalone family violence offences, if we should strengthen protection orders, and how we can improve how the justice system responds.
We received around 500 submissions from people from all walks of life.
Victims of family violence spoke up, organisations who work with victims and perpetrators imparted their experiences, and community groups at the frontline told us the raw truth. The ideas and comments are all being carefully considered and will inform the options for change.
The review of the laws is one of many ways we are working hard to make sure we get victims the help they need, hold perpetrators to account, and stop family violence from happening in the first place.
A REAL DIFFERENCE
Right across Government we are working together in new ways to consider the entire sexual and family violence space and the way Government can best assist; from primary education and prevention, to incident response, victim recovery and reducing repeat behaviours of offenders. We're looking to try new things, piloting projects and being bold because what we do know is that despite the best efforts of many – our approaches to date are just not delivering the change we need.
We've already made good progress on some initiatives, including launching a National Home Safety Service to help victims of violent crime and putting in place a Victim's Code of Rights, making sure courts have better information to hand in making bail decisions, to allowing people to check the family violence history of their partners through our new police disclosure scheme. But there's more to do.
As communities and individuals, we all have a part to play.
Together we can make a real difference to victims and break the cycle of violence within families and across generations.
The home should be a safe place for all.
Help us make that a reality. Join in and stand up against family violence.
What changes do you think would help stop New Zealand's cycle of family violence? Read more about this reader assignment here.