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Committee recommends new system to support survivors of family violence homicide

Family Violence Death Review Committee
09 March 2023

The Family Violence Death Review Committee is calling for an after-care system to support whānau affected by family violence homicide. 

The Committee’s eighth report, An ongoing duty to care | He tauwhiro haere te mahi, released today, shows that routine support for children who are affected by a death resulting from family violence is lacking and outlines a suggested model for the system.

Committee chair Dr Fiona Cram MNZM says these events have far-reaching effects on the people left behind, including those who may have been present or in the home at the time, as well as those who might have been elsewhere, but were closely related to the person who killed or was killed. A robust after-care system must be established.

‘It became really clear to us during our review of family violence cases that whānau experience ongoing and compounding grief because they are unable to access the services they need to properly heal,’ says Dr Cram.

‘The current system isn’t designed with the wellbeing of surviving whānau in mind.’

The report includes a suggested model for kaiāwhina (support workers) involved in an after-care system and recommendations for a ‘super advocate’ with specialist skills and experience to support whānau to get the support they need.

A super advocate can recognise the impact of loss and the need for whānau to lean on someone, and will have expert knowledge about the resources available within the system. 

Dr Cram says that the suggestion of a super advocate has been modelled on the exceptional work that the Committee has observed through their reviews of family violence deaths. The examples in the report capture the ongoing, persistent effort needed to support whānau.

The report is heavily influenced by the stories of whānau affected by a family violence homicide. 

‘We are grateful to those who have shared their stories. They aren’t easy to read, and they highlight the ongoing impact of the lack of an after-care system,’ says Dr Cram.

The Committee has proposed practice guidelines for people engaging with whānau as well as recommendations for the development of the system. These include:

  • a trigger system that helps identify surviving whānau
  • a professional ally with specialist skills and experience who acts as a super advocate for surviving whānau
  • a whole-child/whole-whānau approach mediated by the super advocate
  • a tailored approach that is family or whānau led, responding to what they need, when it is needed.

‘Where we have identified a gap in the system, we have also highlighted current effective approaches that non-governmental agencies are taking to support families or whānau who have experienced a death resulting from family violence,’ says Dr Cram.

‘Each family and whānau situation will be unique and complex in different ways and could include conflict over care arrangements for surviving whānau members and long-term experience of trauma.

‘Each of these situations requires specialist skills. Having a system set up to support them during this time will have a life-long impact.’

The full report is available to download below.

Support available | He tautoko

  • If you are in immediate danger, please call 111
  • Women’s Refuge National Helpline – Crisisline: 0800 REFUGE/0800 733 843
  • shine* Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0508 744 633
  • Shakti 24-hour crisis line with multilingual staff: 0800 SHAKTI/0800 742 584
  • Worried about a child? Call: 0508 FAMILY/0508 326 459 (Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children)
  • Rape Crisis – National Call Line: 0800 88 33 00
  • Safe to talk – Kōrero mai, ka ora 24/7 Sexual harm helpline: 0800 044 334 or text 4334
  • Elder Abuse Response Service National Helpline: 0800 EA NOT OK/0800 32 668 65
  • Hey Bro helpline: 0800 HeyBro/0800 439 276 – supporting men to be free from violence
  • Family Violence Information Line: 0800 456 450 (available 9 am–11 pm daily)
  • For more information on helping services, go to the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse website: