Shine responds to MOJ's proposed tough new domestic violence laws

Shine responds to MOJ's proposed tough new domestic violence laws

The Ministry of Justice recently released a breakthrough discussion document presenting a wide range of ideas in order to better ‘keep victims of family violence safe and hold perpetrators to account’. Some of the ideas in the discussion document are:

          • Establishing a set of stand-alone family violence offences which will help Government track family violence cases in the courts
          • Creating an additional pathway for victims and perpetrators who want help, but are not yet involved in the criminal justice system 
          • Updating the legal definition of domestic violence, with one idea to more clearly explain the concept of "coercive control" 
          • Requiring Police to arrest for all breaches of protection orders, where there is sufficient evidence 
          • Establishing funding for applications for protection orders so victims to not have to pay to keep themselves safe 
          • Clarifying when information about family violence cases needs to be shared so privacy laws are not a barrier to safety 
          • Repeat family violence offending taken into account during sentencing 
          • More prominence to victim safety in related legislation such as the Care of Children Act and bail and sentencing law We commend the Ministry and Minister Amy Adams for such a forward thinking document and we strongly support the proposals that put a stronger legislative focus on safety for victims.

Because these statistics are just shocking:

         * New Zealand has the highest reported rate of intimate partner violence in the developed world 
         * 41 per cent of police response time is spent on domestic violence. In 2014 they responded to 100,000 incidents 
         * Every five minutes, one notification for family violence is made to Police

We believe that New Zealand absolutely needs to shift towards adults and children having the right to safety, over and above an offender’s right to natural justice or access to their children.

We also support legislative changes to clarify that safety trumps privacy in guiding decisions about sharing information on cases involving domestic abuse.

Jane Drumm, Shine’s Executive Director says,

“We totally support the proposal that the police make an arrest whenever there is evidence of a Protection Order breach. We also support the proposal for repeat and serious family violence offending to be considered an aggravating factor in sentencing. There need to be changes in the law as well as policies of police, courts and other agencies that recognise that family violence is a pattern of coercive control.

In my nearly 18 years working in this sector, I have never seen anything like this document. It is heartening that it contains such a raft of important proposed changes, and more importantly that these changes are being led by 16 Government Ministers in a whole of government approach on this issue. These and other proposals in the document would give a very strong message that society does not tolerate domestic abuse.” 

Listen to Minister Adams and Jane Drumm interviewed on Radio NZ by Kathryn Ryan (28 mins)

Listen to Minister Adams and Jane Drumm interviewed on Radio LIVE by Duncan Garner (12 mins)