Budget 2022 Ministry of Justice

Significant Budget 2022 initiatives for courts and the Ministry of Justice includes;

Te Au Reka – digitising court processes to improve the integrity of the courts and tribunals (previously the Caseflow Management Project).

This initiative will be transformative for court operations.

Once implemented it will see the court system’s current manually intensive processes replaced with a new online case management system which will enable all users to engage with a modern court that is trusted, safe and responsive.

Digitising the paper-based court processes will make the progression of cases faster. It will also be easier for all New Zealanders to interact with the court system and know what is happening.

By reducing unnecessary delays in the justice system, and improving access to information, people will experience less stress and disruption when dealing with the courts.

Te Au Reka will ensure effort is invested in actions that help progress cases, support resolution, and keep people safe, rather than managing administratively intensive processes.

Once implemented, Te Au Reka will contribute to the justice sector priorities to address issues in remand, provide better access for victims, and improve access to justice.

Te Au Reka will provide the digital platform that underpins change programmes and initiatives such as Te Korowai Ture-ā-Whānau Family Justice Reform, Te Ao Mārama, the Criminal Process Improvement Programme (CPIP), and the Hōkai Rangi strategy.

Te Au Reka will be implemented in three phases, starting in the Family Court to address the area with the biggest need and greatest risk to vulnerable participants.

Te Ao Mārama – engaging with communities and partnering with iwi to design new solutions for the District Court: up to $47.4m over four years

This initiative provides funding for the growth and realisation of Te Ao Mārama in the District Court by engaging with communities and working in partnership with iwi in a rohe-specific context to develop new solutions to respond to each community’s unique needs.

Te Ao Mārama will also incorporate knowledge, skills, and approaches such as plain language, revised courtroom layouts and tikanga Māori that we already know work well in specialist and therapeutic courts (including the Rangatahi, Matariki, Young Adult List, and Family Violence Courts).

Te Ao Mārama will be grown and realised in all District Court locations over time, starting with Hamilton and Gisborne.

Meeting demand for critical court and justice services: $59.5m over four years

This investment will help retain a stable and resilient workforce to support the courts and help prevent delays. It will allow for growth in the use of critical specialist court services such a interpreters.

Maintaining these critical services will be important for realising Te Ao Mārama, the vision for the District Court. It will also provide funding to pay doctors who provide reports under Section 40 of the Coroners Act 2006.

Strengthening court security: $22.8m over four years

Additional funding is being provided for security services at courts and tribunals. The funding will cover increased staffing, as well as support, training, and supervision. Staff will be placed based on risk levels and courts demand.

Whakaari/White Island Criminal Prosecution: $9.3m

This will mean that defendants, victims and their families will be able to fully engage in the court process for the WorkSafe New Zealand prosecution relating to the Whakaari/White Island eruption.

Legal aid: $148.7m over four years

The Budget contains an investment of $148.7m over four years in the legal aid system.

This initiative provides funding to update the legal aid policy settings relating to eligibility, repayment, and legal aid lawyers’ remuneration to improve access to justice for low-income New Zealanders and ensure the scheme is resilient and sustainable.

Improving the coronial system for bereaved families and whānau: $28.4m over four years

Budget 2022 commits a package of investment towards improving the coronial system and reducing delays for bereaved families and whānau. It will reduce and maintain the number of cases unnecessarily coming into the coronial jurisdiction and maintain the coronial caseload at a sustainable level.

Four new permanent coroners will be appointed, together with support staff. New Coronial Registrar and Clinical Advisor positions will also be established. The Clinical Advisor role will improve the medical knowledge available to the Duty Coroner to help prevent natural cause deaths being unnecessarily accepted into the coronial jurisdiction.

New Coronial Registrar positions will support the current Duty Coroner roster. Using Coronial Registrars to support the current Duty Coroner roster will free up more coroner time to focus on inquiry cases.

Seven Coronial Registrar roles and four Clinical Advisor roles are planned.

Addressing the impacts of the delta COVID-19 restrictions: $34.5m over four years

The investment will help reduce court delays across cases and appeals in the Court of Appeal, High and District Courts.

The funding provides for one additional acting Court of Appeal Judge and an extension of time-limited funding for five District Court Judges, four acting High Court Judges, and associated staff.

This will assist courts which saw an increase in active cases due to delta COVID–19 restrictions to reduce their caseloads to pre-COVID-19 levels.

AODT Courts: $9.9m over four years

The Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment (AODT) Courts in Auckland, Waitakere and the Waikato will continue to be funded.

Criminal Process Improvement Programme (CPIP) – make every event meaningful: $5.3m over four years

This funding will improve processes in the criminal jurisdiction of the District Court to ensure all participants are fully prepared to meaningfully progress, or resolve a case at the scheduled hearing. It will result in a reduction of unnecessary adjournments and delays and will address the increasing backlog of cases.

Increased capability for the Ministry of Justice’s policy group: $22.9m over four years

This funding will increase the capacity and capability of the Ministry of Justice’s policy group to carry out its policy advice and stewardship functions.

It will provide extra capability to work with enforcement agencies and the security community to keep New Zealand safe. It will support access to justice, and the efficacy and continued integrity of the court system. It will also help the Ministry work towards meeting its Te Tiriti o Waitangi obligations as a Crown partner by building capability for relationships and engagement to enable policy development with Māori.

New Zealand Crime and Victims Survey: $8.6m over four years

This initiative provides funding for the New Zealand Crime and Victims Survey (NZCVS) to strengthen analysis and reporting. The NZCVS is a key source for measuring rates of victimisation and the experience of victims, including population groups with a higher risk of victimisation.

Victim Assistance Scheme financial grants: $12.3m over three years

The Budget also provides funding to expand the Victim Assistance Scheme. The scheme supports victims of serious crime, including whānau bereaved by homicide and sexual violence survivors. The additional funding will mean more grants can be given to marginalised and disadvantaged victims.

This initiative will improve the scheme’s uptake rates among victims who face barriers such as digital exclusion, poor understanding of government systems, and societal disadvantage.

Victim Support administers the Victim Assistance Scheme on behalf of the Ministry of Justice. Each year the scheme distributes grants to families bereaved by homicide, and victims of sexual violence and other serious crime.

Financial grants are an effective way of easing the burden of victimisation by paying for costs related to the crime, the justice process, and the victim’s recovery.

Victims Operating Model: $45.7m over four years

Budget 2022 provides funding of up to $45.7m over four years towards a sector-wide strategy for improving outcomes for victims of crime.

This victims operating model will amplify existing efforts and take a victim-centric view across the system.

We know that people from Māori, Pacific, refugee and migrant, disabled and LGBTQI+ communities feel they are not represented in public discourse on victimisation, and feel left out of the system.

The first priority is to analyse the current gaps in the justice system for victims of crime and their whānau and identify how the justice sector needs to change to better meet the needs of victims.

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