The Family Violence Act and the Family Violence (Amendments) Act puts in place a modern and enabling legislative framework to prevent, identify and address family violence. They are a major step in supporting the system to reduce New Zealand's unacceptable rate of family violence.
The two Acts forms part of a wider-work programme led by the Minister of Justice, Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister of Justice (Domestic and Sexual Violence Issues) and Minister for Social Development. The objectives of the two Acts, supported by the wider work programme, are to:
The new Family Violence Act is scheduled to come into forcre on 1 July 2019. Parts 2, 4 and 6 of the Family Violence (Amendments) Act, which amend the following Acts, will also come into force on 1 July 2019:
However, Parts 1, 3 and 5 of the Family Violence (Amendments) Act, which amend the following Acts, will come into force on 3 December 2018:
The Family Violence Act provides more guidance about the nature and impact of family violence and expectations about the response to enhance the consistency of decision-making in the family violence system. For example, the Act:
The Act also aims to support more collaboration in the sector to address family violence by enabling family violence agencies and social service practitioners to request, use or disclose personal information for the purposes of protecting victims, performing risk or needs assessment, or making decisions or plan to respond to family violence.
The guide coordinated and consistent service delivery, the Act will enable the Minister of Justice to issue codes of practice, which can assist the sector to work collectively to the same set of rules and provide further clarity about what the Act intends.
The Family Violence Act aims to reduce the legal barriers people face when applying for protection orders, and have processes that are more responsive to the dynamics of family violence and to the different types of assistance people need.
The Act enhances the ability of Police safety orders (PSOs) to protect victims and stop perpetrators' use of violence. For example, the Act extends the maximum duration of PSOs to 10 days to enable victims more time to put in place safety arrangements, enables Police to direct individuals subject to PSOs to attend risk and needs assessments, and empowers Police to issue a PSO if a person is arrested, but no charges are subsequently filed.
Other changes to the Act include:
The Act also includes provisions to uphold child and victim safety in parenting arrangements, such as:
In order to ensure the safety of victims, including children, is prioritised in decisions which affect them, the Family Violence (Amendments) Act makes the safety of victims, and those in a family relationship with a victim, the primary consideration in bail decisions for family violence cases. It also empowers the court to impose any conditions reasonably necessary to protect victims in a family violence bail decisions.
The Act introduces modern criminal offences to reflect the dynamic of family violence offending and the serious nature of strangulation or suffocation. The Act differentiates the following forms of family violence offending from more general offences:
The Act highlights the serious and repeat nature of family violence and its impact on victims by providing that a breach of protection order be a specific aggravating factor in sentencing considerations. It also ensures that family violence offending is identified and recorded consistently in the system by introducing a requirement to record an offence as a family violence offence upon conviction, and allowing the court to use that information throughout the criminal court process.
To read more about the changes please see the below documents:
If you would like to learn more about the previous work that has led to the proposed changes, please see the following:
Cabinet Paper 1:
Cabinet Paper 2:
Cabinet paper 3:
For more information about the 2015 consultation, see Better family violence law(external link)