2 Mar 2016

Safety first, say family violence submissions

8:41 pm on 2 March 2016

The public has put forward a raft of suggestions to tackle family violence, including legal and financial support for victims, better access to protection orders and legal support, and potentially a change to the legal definition to reflect abuse can be psychological, not just physical.

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Amy Adams Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Justice Minister Amy Adams has released a [http://www.justice.govt.nz/consultations/previous-consultations/better-family-violence-law/documents/summary-of-submissions

summary of public submissions] in response to the government's review of family violence laws.

Ms Adams said she wants the law, and government agencies, to be more proactive, when it was clear there was a risk to family members.

"Part of a new approach to family violence is it's a very different sort of offending, it's not a one off incident where someone gets hit in a bar, it's often characterised by a long pattern of behaviour that starts with control and intimidation and dominance and isolation and escalates to violence.

"And if we want to get in sooner and act more effectively I think we have to recognise those early patterns of behaviour," said Ms Adams.

Submissions also highlighted the vulnerability of victims in the migrant community, concluding "immigration status can be a barrier to them reporting abuse or leaving abusive relationships".

In the submissions there was a general consensus that safety should trump privacy, particularly with regard to information sharing.

Abuse of pets was also identified as a "tactic of coercive and controlling behaviour" and there is a strong correlation between animal abuse and family violence.

There were also several suggestions to support victims, through better access to public protection orders and providing financial assistance.

Ms Adams said decisions about specific proposals for law changes would be announced later this year, with the intention to introduce legislation to Parliament later this year.

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