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Seventh family violence deaths report highlights agencies’ duty of care

Family Violence Death Review Committee Mortality Review Committees
07 June 2022

The latest report on family violence deaths in Aotearoa New Zealand calls for government agencies to be more responsive to whānau and all aspects of their life and wellbeing. 

Released today, the Seventh report: A duty to care | Pūrongo tuawhitu: Me manaaki te tangata from the Family Violence Death Review Committee (the Committee) draws on findings and recommendations from in-depth reviews conducted in 2019–21, as well as previous Committee reports. 

Reflecting on a reduction in the proportion of family violence deaths occurring in Māori whānau, the Committee highlights in the report a whole-of-whānau approach taken by Māori organisations. 

Between 2009 and 2019, Māori accounted for 44 percent of family violence deaths. In 2021, this dropped to 23 percent of family violence deaths according to the Committee’s provisional data. 

Committee chair Dr Fiona Cram says Māori community organisations are leading the way and their approach can show us how to form genuine, respectful relationships. To demonstrate, the report highlights the work of three kaupapa Māori organisations that are embedding a duty to care for their people, resulting in less risk of unseen victims and more opportunities for families and whānau to guide service delivery. 

‘In contrast, some of our government institutions are yet to move,’ she said. 

Dr Cram said, throughout its investigations, the Committee was confronted with the reality that upholding a societal duty of care could have prevented many of deaths from family violence. 

The report urges government agencies to fulfil their legal duty of care for those who are impacted by family violence; be good partners with community organisations; focus on wellbeing; and take a wiser, more respectful approach to people, families, whānau and community organisations. 

This means addressing: 

  • the potential for alternative care pathways and partnerships for hapori/community services and government agencies to work better together 
  • the impact of failing in the duty of care for disabled people 
  • the need for an ongoing duty of care for those who have been impacted by a family violence death. 

The Committee is one of five statutory mortality review committees that report to the Health Quality & Safety Commission. Its role is to review family violence deaths to identify strategies to reduce such deaths in the future. The Committee has a particular focus on policy and practice improvements that can reduce family violence deaths.  

The report states that 292 deaths resulted from intimate partner violence, child abuse and neglect or intra-familial violence between 2009 and 2019 in Aotearoa New Zealand, with 295 offenders responsible for the deaths. 

The report is available from 7 June 2022 here:

Four videos are also available at the link above, which capture reflections from a range of communities and Committee members, as well as a short companion document that explores the kaupapa of the report and includes reflective points for agencies and services.