14 Sep Reforms a potential game-changer for victims
Victim Support is applauding the Government for acting boldly to address New Zealand’s high rates of family violence.
Chief Executive Kevin Tso says the package of reforms has the potential to be a “game changer for victims of family violence”, but only if resources are prioritised for frontline services.
Victim Support is the leading victim services NGO in New Zealand, supporting around 30,000 victims each year, including around 9,000 victims of family harm.
“There are no other words for it, 110,000 incidents of family violence a year is a national disgrace,” says Mr Tso.
“The Government should be commended for putting forward a comprehensive plan to reduce this appalling rate.
“In particular, Victim Support welcomes a renewed focus on services to victims and to early intervention. Above everything, the most important things we can do for victims are ensure there are clear steps to prevent re-offending, and that quality support services are available to stay physically and mentally safe and navigate the justice system.
“Making it simpler to apply for protection orders will make a practical difference to keep victims safer. The proposal to allow NGOs to apply on behalf of victims will help to alleviate stress during a time of real crisis for victims.
“Changes to ensure perpetrators can be connected to a risk and needs assessment hub are also critical, and we are glad to see these incorporated into the package.
“Family violence cases are some of our most complex. You’ve got to remember we are talking about real families here, who share responsibility for their livelihoods and often the care and love of children. It’s common for victims to want to explore all the options to keep their family together, but break the cycle of violence.
“So it’s important that more and tougher penalties are just one part of a toolkit which also addresses the causes of family violence and provides a clear path to rehabilitation for perpetrators and in some cases resolution for families.
However, Mr Tso cautioned the Government to ensure the resources needed to deliver the programme are sufficient and targeted.
“If this plan is going to work, the Government needs to ensure the resources it has committed make their way to the front line.”
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