Fears urgent domestic violence report 'buried'

STEVE KILGALLON
Last updated 05:00 04/05/2014

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A hurried Government report on domestic violence which promised "solutions" by the end of 2013 has yet to be released, prompting fears it has been "buried" by the Ministry of Social Development.

Chaired by retired judge Paul van Dadelszen, the Expert Advisory Group on Family Violence was convened last October and swiftly reported back in December for immediate consideration by Cabinet.

Since then, there has been no decision on its findings and panel members feel they've been kept in the dark.

An informed sector source said the report had been "effectively, completely buried".

"The public need to know where the report is, and what the Government is doing about family violence?"

One panel member, lawyer and academic Dr Huhana Hickey, said considering the report was urgent and panellists only had a couple of meetings, it was a concern.

"We do need to be starting to act now. We were told it had to go to Cabinet, and then we've heard nothing. It was meant to be in December, then it was delayed to January. It has been delays, constant delays."

Another panel member, University of Auckland professor Peter Adams, said he was "out of touch" and didn't know the outcome. He deferred comment to van Dadelszen, who said he couldn't comment because of the confidential nature of the report.

"You can say I am not aware it has been, as you put it, buried," van Dadelszen said.

Hickey said panel members have not seen the final report or been informed but she hoped something would happen because she knew family violence minister Tariana Turia wanted to see action before she retired from Parliament in September.

The panel was announced on October 1, with Turia quoted in a Government media release saying the group would help Government "determine key priority actions . . . their advice is expected to be able to be translated into change on the ground that is tangible and measurable".

It promised it would "work towards solutions by the end of 2013".

There was initial urgency, with sector groups angered when on October 9 the ministry circulated a survey that demanded a response within 48 hours. The panel was able to meet only twice before hurriedly completing its report.

Domestic violence is a hot policy topic with three reports due this year.

As well as the stalled MSD report, there are also independent papers due from the Glenn Inquiry and from former Glenn Inquiry director Ruth Herbert.

The Glenn Inquiry has been criticised for its tardiness but chair Bill Wilson has told the Star-Times it will deliver papers in June and October.

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Herbert said her "business plan" for the sector would be delivered in late June.

But there is no such timeline for the Government report. The Social Development Ministry said the report was "still under active ministerial consideration".

- Sunday Star Times

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