Family and sexual violence work programme updates

Welcome to the latest update from the cross-government joint venture, leading the Government's work on family violence and sexual violence.

View previous updates in the archive

20 December 2018

In this edition we feature: 

Te Rōpū starts work

The membership of Te Rōpū, the Māori Partner of the Joint Venture, was announced (external link)on 18 December as Te Rōpū held its inaugural meeting in Wellington.

Te Rōpū is a Partnership between Māori and the Crown to transform the whole-of-government response to family violence, sexual violence and violence within whānau.  

Announcing the appointments, Under-Secretary to the Minister of Justice, Jan Logie, said, “Te Rōpū marks a significant change to the way Government works with Māori to address some of our most complex and difficult problems.”

The interim group will work in partnership with government Ministers and the Joint
Venture
on family violence and sexual violence to develop a national strategy and action plan, as well as informing enduring arrangements for Māori involvement in the Government’s work in this area.

“This work is critical, and it needs a Māori perspective – but we didn’t want to assume what that would look like before we’ve got the strategy and action plan, and before we’ve heard from Māori about what they need from us,” says Jan Logie. “That’s why this interim group has been appointed.” 

Members of the Interim Te Rōpū include Prue Kapua (Chair), Roni Albert, Ngaropi Cameron, Ange Chaney, Paora Crawford Moyle, Te Owai Gemmell, Roku Mihinui, Susan Ngawati Osborne, Russell Smith, and Sir Mark Solomon.

Speaking at the media announcement, Prue Kapua, said, “The members of the Interim Te Rōpū are committed to working in partnership with the Crown to facilitate the development and implementation of appropriate Māori responses to family and sexual violence in our communities.  Statistics show the system has failed and Te Rōpū signals a step-change in the way the Crown is working with us to incorporate Māori focussed solutions and aspirations for reducing sexual violence and violence within whānau.”

Cabinet agreed to establish an interim Te Rōpū to assist the government to work in partnership with Māori on an integrated response to family violence and sexual violence. The Cabinet papers, including the Terms of Reference for Te Rōpū, are available

Online guide to the justice system

Victim-survivors of sexual violence have access to a new online guide(external link) to the justice system, launched on 13 December.

The guide responds to survivors’ calls for better information about the stages of the justice process, to reduce re-traumatisation and re-victimisation.  

In 2015, the Law Commission Te Aka Matua O te Ture Report: The Justice Response to Victims of Sexual Violence - Criminal Trials and Alternative Processes(external link) highlighted concerns about the impact of the justice system on victims.

Further research commissioned by the Ministry of Justice interviewed survivors about their experience of the justice process and identified the opportunities for reducing trauma. Access to timely information about the process restores a sense of power for survivors.

Equipping survivors, their family, whānau and supporters with this information, we hope to reduce the stress associated with going through the court system.

The online guide recognises that people will need different information at different times in the process, and provides plain language explanations of processes and legal terms.

The guide is part of a wider package of work to improve victims’ experience of the justice system, which will include:

  • training for frontline Justice people on how to provide safe and appropriate responses to people affected by family violence and/or sexual violence;
  • further research and evaluation including additional interviews with victims of sexual violence to understand their personal experiences of the justice system, to help inform and improve operational changes; and
  • improving in-court facilities for victims.

The Solicitor-General is in the process of developing new guidelines for the prosecution of sexual violence cases, which are expected to take effect in the middle of next year. Crown Law will provide training on the Guidelines to Crown Solicitors and Police Prosecutors prior to them taking effect.The evaluation of victims’ experiences helps establish a baseline against which operational improvements will be measured.

“The Ministry plans an evaluation of its operational improvements to ensure it is not unintentionally re-victimising people,” said Wayne Newall, Manager, Implementation for Commissioning and Service Improvement.

“This latest qualitative research provides important insights into the experiences of some our most vulnerable customers. It has given us valuable insights that we will use to improve the services we deliver within the justice process. We anticipate repeating this research in 2020/ 21 to assess progress on improving the justice system,” said Mr Newall.Mr Newall said he wanted to thank social research company Gravitas for organising the fieldwork for this report, and those Court Victim Advisors who helped arranged for victim’s participation in this important research.

“Along with modern law and whole-of-government efforts to create an integrated system, operational improvements play an important part in improving the response to victims of sexual violence. This online guide is a positive step in the right direction, and the research provides us with a deeper understanding of the experiences of victims and where change is most needed.”

Every 4 Minutes: new report from Chief Science Advisor sets out the evidence for preventing family violence

New Zealanders must understand the importance of childhood and reduce children’s exposure to adverse experiences if we want reduce incarceration rates, says Dr Ian Lambie, Chief Science Advisor to the Justice Sector.

In Every 4 Minutes – A discussion paper on preventing family violence(external link) in New Zealand launched at Parliament on 11 December, Dr Lambie has set out the links between the trauma caused by family violence and our high prison population.

“All of us must take responsibility for starting to repair the damage and distress that family violence does to our society. We need everyone knowing about, and beginning to think about, what we can do collectively about family violence. It’s everyone’s responsibility to reject and prevent violence,” Dr Lambie says.

The paper says family violence can be prevented through:

  • Effective investment in families with children;
  • Media and awareness raising campaigns; and
  • Ensuring public servants and community practitioners have the capacity and capability to enable prevention and early intervention.

Dr Lambie says scientists have found that exposure to violence can impact the biological development of a child’s brain and body.

“They negatively affect a child’s physical and psychosocial health, through upsetting the neuroendocrine and immune systems, and brain development critical for learning and memory. This impacts mental health, physical health and behaviour. Exposure to violence significantly increases the likelihood of criminal offending.”

 Most criminal offenders have themselves been targets of violence:

  • 80% of child and youth offenders have experience of family violence
  • 87% of young offenders aged 14-16 years in 2016/17 had prior care and protection reports
  • 75% of women in prison have reported family violence and sexual violence
  • A history of sexual abuse is the strongest predictor of reoffending by young females.

“Over the past 10-15 years there have been numerous calls for Aotearoa New Zealand to create a culture that prioritises investment in children’s early years and supports parents to nurture their babies. It is time to act on the evidence. There is much more that can be done to create the conditions for wellbeing in families and whānau. The evidence shows this is essential to preventing violence and reducing our incarceration rates,” says Dr Lambie.

Under-Secretary to the Minister of Justice (Domestic and Sexual Violence Issues), Jan Logie MP, received the discussion paper, saying it was a welcome contribution to the government’s work on a national strategy and action plan on family violence and sexual violence. 

New family violence law sees 29 people charged with strangulation

Following new family violence law taking effect on 3 December, Police pressed charges(external link) against 29 people for strangulation within the first eleven days. Previously, strangulation was treated as an aggravating factor in assault charges. Making it a stand-alone family violence offence will enable greater visibility of the prevalence of the offence, as well as raising awareness of the seriousness of this crime. Strangulation is an indicator of increasing risk and lethality.

Phase 2 of the new family violence law will take effect in July 2019, delivering a raft of changes to family law and laying the foundations for a more integrated family violence system.  

Join the Joint Venture Business Unit – vacancies

The Joint Venture Business Unit is recruiting! This is an opportunity to work on the whole-of-government transformation of the family violence and sexual violence system. The following roles are currently being advertised:

Permanent Director – An opportunity to lead the government's collective response to family violence, sexual violence and violence within whānau and to shape a new way of working across agencies and in partnership with Māori.

  • Influential and challenging senior leadership opportunity
  • Lead a whole-of-government response by driving change and leading to inspire
  • Key role with a mandate to bring about a new way of working

Applications close on 1 February 2019. The full advertisement is here(external link)

Principal Advisor – MāoriAn opportunity to co-lead, alongside a Tau iwi counterpart, the development and implementation of a national strategy to eliminate violence within whānau, family violence and sexual violence. This role will be critical in ensuring the views of Māori are sought in the design of the national strategy and that the needs and aspirations of Māori are represented in policies to address violence.

Applications close on 6 January 2019. The full advertisement is here(external link)

Policy Managers (2) - The Policy Managers will lead two teams of Principal, Senior and Advisors providing high quality advice across Joint Venture agencies in the areas of strategy development, operational policy and system design, policy and secretariat support for the Minister, the JV Board and advisory bodies.

Applications close on 13 January 2019. The full advertisement is here(external link)

Policy Advisors - The JVBU is seeking Policy Advisors at all levels, to support the achievement of the Joint Venture's objectives, by leading the development of high quality policy advice across Joint Venture agencies.

These roles vary across a range of focus areas including strategy development, operational policy and system design, policy and secretariat support for the Minister, the JV Board and advisory bodies.

Applications close on 13 January 2019. The full advertisement is here(external link)

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