New family violence laws take effect

The Family Violence Act 2018 and the Family Violence (Amendments) Act 2018 take full effect on 1 July 2019.

The new legislation is one part of a whole of government work programme to transform the response system for victims and perpetrators of family and sexual violence in New Zealand.

The Family Violence Act replaces the Domestic Violence Act 1995 and brings in changes to Protection Orders and Police Safety Orders, greater visibility for family violence offending in the courts and principles to guide decision making.

Ministry of Justice is one of 10 government agencies named as Family Violence Agencies. They are expected to collaborate to identify, stop, prevent and respond to family violence. This includes sharing information where this will keep victims safe.

Among other key changes, an updated definition of family violence has a greater emphasis on coercive and controlling behaviour and new examples of family violence are added: hurting pets or animals of importance to a person; dowry abuse; disrupting the care of someone who needs it.

Three new family violence offences were introduced in December 2018 – Strangulation/Suffocation; Coerced Marriage or Civil Union; Assault on a Family Member. Victim safety became the primary consideration in bail decisions and it was made easier for victims to give evidence by video recording.

There’s more information on the Ministry website:

Reducing family & sexual violence

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