Next steps in improving our response to family violence

The Ministry of Justice has released a summary of feedback on draft guidance for information sharing under new family violence legislation.

The Family Violence Act 2018 outlines how and when family violence agencies and social services practitioners can share information about victims or perpetrators of family violence.

“The purpose of the new law is to encourage agencies to work together to identify, stop, prevent and otherwise respond to family violence,” says Jan Logie, Under-Secretary to the Minister of Justice (Domestic and Sexual Violence Issues).

“We’ve consulted closely with the family violence sector to ensure our guidelines and processes are clear, and victim safety is at the centre of our decision-making.”

Overall, feedback was positive, recognising the importance of agencies having a more complete picture to better understand and address family violence. But a crucial consideration was seeking the views of victims and survivors, because they know their lives better than anyone else.

One submitter wrote, “Information sharing has to be done in a way that helps empower the victim. To help her rebuild her life and to help agencies see the whole picture.”

“Sharing this information can be critical to preventing and responding to family violence, but we have to do it the right way, making sure we keep victims and survivors safe and acknowledge they are part of the solution,” says Jan Logie.

Submitters also recognised the need to build workforce capability and integrate services across the sector.

“This reinforces the importance of the work the Government is currently doing to create a joined-up response to these problems in government and our communities,” say Jan Logie.

“Family violence significantly affects the lives of many New Zealanders. The level of engagement with the draft guidance reflects the importance of this issue in New Zealand and the need to ensure an integrated, responsive system.

“The Government is committed to reducing family violence, and this is progress towards that goal. I look forward to seeing the views of those who provided feedback reflected in the final version of the guidance.”

The Ministry of Justice will now update the guidance, taking into account the comments and suggestions made. The updated guidance will focus on enabling safe, appropriate and consistent practice across the sector. It will be released when the Family Violence Act comes into effect on 1 July 2019.

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