The Family Violence Death Review Committee (FVDRC) has welcomed the Government’s announcement of an extra $202 million to strengthen family and sexual violence services over the next four years, mainly delivered through the Ministry of Social Development.
The budget includes support for services by Māori for Māori, those supporting victims of elder abuse, and programmes for people who use violence and want to change their behaviour.
The independent committee reviews and advises the Health Quality & Safety Commission on how to reduce the number of family violence deaths.
FVDRC chair, Professor Jane Koziol-McLain, says it’s great to see acknowledgement of the real cost of providing specialist services for women and children who experience violence within their homes.
‘We know that to prevent violence from occurring and to stop the intergenerational transmission of violence, we need to integrate services that address wider social needs, including drug and alcohol abuse, housing and employment.
‘This will be even more important during the recovery from COVID-19, where we expect to see a significant proportion of our population experiencing financial and housing hardship.’
The budget includes new funding for forensic services to gather the robust evidence needed to prosecute non-fatal strangulation offenders.
Professor Koziol-McLain says the Committee would also like to see funding for court experts with an intimate understanding of family violence.
‘A judicial process that leads to high quality decision-making requires understanding concepts such as social entrapment, predominant aggressors and primary victims.
‘Our understanding of family violence is constantly evolving and it’s important there is a range of professionals available to provide a nuanced interpretation of the evidence, including family violence experts.
‘We can’t treat each episode of violence in isolation without an understanding of the wider context and what the violence means to both the victim and the person using violence.’
She says the funding announcement goes some way towards addressing the need for frontline services to recruit well-trained, experienced staff.
‘Innovation also needs to be funded and service gaps addressed if we want to truly reduce violence in our communities. More support is needed to be responsive to men who use violence.
‘The experience of COVID-19 has highlighted how much we rely on agencies working together to ensure the wellbeing of children and families and this will be vital as we develop a response that will enhance the wellbeing of all of Aotearoa New Zealand.’