We must do more to combat family violence

Columns
Wednesday, September 28, 2016

There’s no denying New Zealand’s family violence statistics make for heart-breaking reading. Police respond to a family violence callout every five minutes, half of all homicides are family violence related, and eight children are killed every year as a result of family violence. Too many of our women, men and children are living in fear, and we must do more to change this.

The Government’s overhaul of family violence laws is a massive step towards ensuring we do all we can to protect New Zealanders. These changes will put the safety of victims at the heart of bail decisions, make it easier for victims to apply for Protection Orders, see tougher penalties for people who commit crimes while subject to a Protection Order, and establish strangulation, coercion to marry and assault on a family member as criminal offences.

A wider range of programmes will also be available for perpetrators upon the issuing of protection orders. Helping perpetrators change their behaviours is essential if we are to break the intergenerational cycle of violence.

These changes are crucial to keeping families safe from violence, but as a community we all need to do our bit as well. If you suspect a family member, neighbour, friend or workmate is experiencing family violence or behaving violently, please speak up. This isn’t about ‘sticking your nose in other people’s business’, it’s about keeping each other safe. 

If you’re unsure of where to get help, the Are You Ok website has a great range of resources to help those living with or witnessing family violence. Also remember that if you or someone else is in danger don’t hesitate to call the Police on 111. 

If you or someone you know needs help:
Are You Ok
Family Violence Information Line: 0800 456 450
Child, Youth and Family: 0508 FAMILY (0508 326 459)

For more information on these changes:
Supporting Safer Families
Overhaul of Family Violence Laws (PDF)