More protection under family violence bill

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Victims of family violence will be able to apply for police safety orders for up to 10 days to give them more time to arrange their affairs under proposed changes to the Family and Whānau Violence Bill currently before Parliament.

Justice Minister Andrew Little and Under-Secretary Jan Logie announced the changes today as the Family and Whānau Violence Bill passed its second reading in Parliament with unanimous support.

Andrew Little
Andrew Little

The most significant change is allowing victims to apply for police safety orders of up to 10 days.

“This will provide victims with more time to put in place safety arrangements at a crucial point in time,” Little said.

Other changes include:

• Modernising the Domestic Violence Act to improve its usability

• Further recognising the coercion and control elements of family violence

• Requiring assessors and providers to take into account victims’ views

• Specifying that dowry abuse is a form of family violence

“This Government has reiterated addressing family violence is a priority in its work to improve the wellbeing of families and children, and our aim is to reduce the harm that family violence causes in New Zealand,” Little said in a statement.

“The bill will provide mechanisms for earlier intervention and assessment of the risk that a perpetrator will inflict more serious harm,” Little said.

It also obliges family violence agencies and social service practitioners to share information.

“The amendments we are making will strengthen the focus on victims, clarify the law and enable government and communities to work together. We need to get in as early as possible, support victims to access the support they want and need to ensure their safety.”

The Family and Whānau Violence Bill was introduced to Parliament in May 2016 by the previous National government.

In July, Parliament has passed a law that allows victims of domestic violence to take up 10 days paid leave from work each year. That takes effect in April 2019.

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