The Terms of Reference for the Committee can be viewed below or downloaded in either Word or pdf formats:

The Role of the Committee

  1. The Family Violence Death Review Committee (the Committee) is a Mortality Review Committee, appointed under section 59E of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000 (the Act) by the Health Quality and Safety Commission (HQSC). The provisions of Schedule 5 to the Act apply in relation to the Committee (s59E of the Act).
  2. The Committee is a ‘statutory advisor ’ to the HQSC, and is hosted by the HQSC. The role of the Committee is to independently perform its functions, within the parameters determined by the Act and the budget and scope set by the HQSC.

The Functions of the Committee

  1. The functions of Mortality Review Committees are set out in section 59E (1) (a) and (b) of the Act.
  2. The Committee’s functions are to:
    • review and report to the HQSC on family violence deaths with a view to reducing family violence deaths
    • support continuous quality improvement through the promotion of on-going quality assurance programmes
    • develop strategic plans and methodologies that are designed to reduce family violence morbidity and mortality, and are relevant to the Committee’s functions
    • advise on any other matters related to family violence that the HQSC specifies in writing.


  1. The overarching goals of the Committee are to contribute to the prevention of family violence and family violence deaths by: 

a. reviewing family violence deaths in Aotearoa/New Zealand
b. identifying systemic factors which shape practice and service provision within the family violence response system
c. making recommendations on how the system might be improved to prevent harm caused by family violence
d. facilitating improvements to systems and services in the area of family violence.


  1. For the purposes of these Terms of Reference family violence is defined as:

Any behaviour that coerces, controls or harms, an (ex) intimate partner and/or family member(s) by the means of deprivation, negligent treatment, isolation, intimidation, threats, violence, and/or causes them to fear for their own, or another family member’s safety or well-being.

It can include physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, and economic abuse, as well as neglect, exploitation and children’s exposure to these forms of abuse and the effects of abusive behaviour.

  1. Family violence is best understood as a pattern of abusive behaviour, and can also span multiple relationships and generations.
  2. For the purposes of these Terms of Reference a family violence death is defined as:

The unnatural death of a person (adult or child) where the suspected perpetrator(s) is a family or extended family member , caregiver , intimate partner, previous partner of the victim, or previous partner of the victim’s current partner, and where the death was an episode of family violence and/or there is an identifiable history of family violence.

  1. The following categories of family violence-related deaths are excluded from this definition:

a. non family member bystanders or interveners
b. suicides
c. suicide-assisted deaths
d. deaths from chronic illness associated with family violence.

  1. When able, the Committee will report on family violence-related deaths. The Committee may report separately on attempted family violence homicides.
  2. For the purposes of these Terms of Reference, a family violence death review is a systemic analysis of the lives of victims, perpetrators and their families and whānau, and events prior to, surrounding, and after the death(s), by a combination of agencies and disciplines within a confidential and culturally safe environment.
  3. The purpose of the review is to identify changes or enhancements to systems, policy, and services that may contribute to the prevention of family violence and family violence deaths.
  4. When undertaking its family violence death review functions, the Committee will: 

a. be sensitive to, and respectful of, victims, families and whānau, and minimise the revictimisation and trauma that death reviews may cause
b. support death review participants
c. keep information and data secure, and protect confidentiality
d. operate in a culturally competent, inclusive, and responsive manner
e. ensure review processes are consistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi
f. have a systemic focus on learning in order to improve/enhance current and future systems, policy and practice
g. develop, enhance and foster multi-agency collaboration in the family violence sector.

Expected Activities

  1. The Committee is expected to oversee family violence mortality review to ensure that relevant, evidence-based advice is provided to the HQSC as quickly as practicable.
  2. In order to perform its functions, the Committee will:

a. collect data and information from relevant sources on circumstances prior to, surrounding, and after family violence deaths
b. undertake reviews from a systemic and trauma informed approach which analyses the families and whānau histories, and the system engagement prior to, surrounding, and after family violence deaths
c. conduct specific reviews into clusters/subgroups of family violence deaths
d. liaise with any other mortality review committees appointed by the HQSC to assist, on mutual agreement, with reviews of deaths that are within the scope of those other committees
e. ensure the security of personal information referred to in clause 3 of Schedule 5 of the Act.

  1. In order to fulfil its functions, the Committee will:

a. monitor the number, categories and demographics of family violence deaths
b. identify patterns and trends in family violence deaths over time
c. report and make recommendations developed in a collaborative approach with relevant agencies and individuals, on system, policy and practice improvements to contribute to the reduction of family violence and family violence deaths
d. make available to researchers data about family violence deaths within the privacy and confidentiality restrictions of the Committee.

  1. The Committee is expected to support the development and enhancement of positive working relationships, with: 

a. existing Mortality Review Committees and the HQSC, to ensure coordination and integration of functions and to minimise duplication, to improve efficiency and sustainability
b. relevant government bodies
c. relevant stakeholder organisations.

  1. In carrying out its functions the Committee is expected to ensure that:

a. appropriate consultation is undertaken when developing methodologies to carry out its functions and disseminate its findings
b. any advice and recommendations comply with the laws of New Zealand
c. a plan for recommendation dissemination is made with the HQSC (including publication), within agreed budgets
d. the HQSC is provided with advance notice of media statements, public comment or publications. This does not prevent the chair liaising directly with media sources in a timely manner on agreed key messages.

  1. The Committee is expected to submit a proposed three-year rolling work plan to the HQSC by December of each year, for the following three financial years. 

a. If approved, budget will be assigned to the work plan. The Committee is required to achieve the work plan within the assigned budget.
b. The Committee is required to work within their agreed work plans and budgets.

  1. The Committee is expected to submit an annual report to the HQSC, which will include:

a. a summary of the Committee’s work
b. the Committee’s advice and recommendations
c. the Committee’s rationale for its advice and any relevant evidence and/or documentation.


  1. The Committee will have a maximum of 8 members, which will include a range of the following expertise:

a. members with expertise in mortality review systems
b. members with expertise in legal (criminal and family), medical, indigenous, social science and/or health research and practice
c. members who are experts in the field of intimate partner violence
d. members who are experts in the field of child abuse and protection issues
e. members with knowledge of, or experience in, service provision or operational policy in the social sector, including family violence services
f. members with knowledge of family violence issues from a service user/family perspective
g. Māori members with knowledge of family violence issues, or experience in working with Māori whānau affected by family violence
h. members of other ethnic groups with knowledge of family violence issues, or experience in working with families affected by family violence.

  1. The Committee will be assisted by advisors from relevant agencies and organisations. This will enable information, expertise and advice to be available to the Committee, so that the Committee’s discussions and debates are fully informed. The advisors are accountable to their organisation, and are not members of the Committee. The advisors will be nominated by the Chief Executive, or their equivalent, from the following organisations:

a. the Ministry of Health
b. the Ministry of Social Development
c. the Ministry of Justice
d. the New Zealand Police
e. the Department of Corrections
f. the Ministry of Education
g. key non-government organisation family violence representatives
h. the Chief Coroner’s Office
i. the Office of the Children’s Commissioner.

  1. The Committee may appoint sub-groups or establish working parties relevant to its agreed work plan and it may co-opt expertise as necessary to assist any sub-groups, within its budget.
  2. The Committee may appoint ‘agents’ to assist it to collect information relevant to the performance of any of the Committee’s functions.
  3. The Committee is expected to self-determine its operations, with the advice of the Secretariat and within budget.

a. Co-option of additional expertise can be made within budget (to the committee or to working groups of the committee), but co-opted members will not have voting rights and will not be entitled to membership fees.

  1. Chairperson and Deputy Chairpersons

a. The HQSC will appoint a Chairperson and a Deputy Chairperson or Chairpersons to the Committee. The Chairperson is expected to preside at every meeting of the Committee at which he or she is present, unless he or she appoints one of the Deputy Chairpersons to preside.
b. The Chair of the Committee (or a Deputy Chair) is expected to attend regular meetings of all the Mortality Review Committees’ Chairs (“Chairs’ Meetings”) to ensure cooperation and integration across Committees wherever possible, and the best allocation of limited resources.
c. The Chair of the Committee (or a Deputy Chair) will be required to meet with the HQSC, on request.
d. The Chair of the Committee (or a Deputy Chair) may be required to attend other Committee meetings at the request of the HQSC.

  1. Management of Conflicts of Interest

a. Members must perform their functions in good faith, honestly and impartially and avoid situations that might compromise their integrity or otherwise lead to conflicts of interest. Proper observation of these principles will protect the Committee and its members and will ensure that it retains public confidence.
b. When members believe they have a potential conflict of interest on a subject that will prevent them from reaching an impartial decision or undertaking an activity consistent with the Committee’s functions, they must declare that conflict of interest and withdraw themselves from the discussion and/or activity.

  1. Confidentiality

a. The maintenance of confidentiality is crucial to the functioning of the Committee.
b. Members must note the statutory requirements in section 59E (6) of the Act, which prevents disclosure of information of the kind described in clause 3 of schedule 5 of the Act.
c. Under this clause, information means any information that is personal information within the meaning of section 2(1) of the Privacy Act 1993; and that became known to any member or executive officer or agent of a Mortality Review Committee only because of the Committee’s functions being carried out (for example, because it is contained in a document created, and made available to the member or executive officer or agent, only because of those functions being carried out), whether or not the carrying out of those functions is completed.
d. Members must note that the disclosure of information contrary to schedule 5 of the Act is an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 (s 59E(6)).

  1. Meetings will usually be held in Wellington. Actual and reasonable expenses for activities required by the Committee of its members (e.g., travel, accommodation, literature searches) will be met from the Committee’s budget provided prior approval is received.
  2. The timing and frequency of meetings is to be coordinated with the Secretariat to fit within the allocated budget.
  3. The Committee will regulate its own procedures, according to State Services Commission requirements and guidelines and ensure that a record of decisions is maintained.


  1. The HQSC employs staff to assist the Committee out of the Committee’s allocated budget.
  2. The Secretariat provides: 

a. expert subject matter knowledge and experience in the family violence sector
b. expertise in undertaking family violence death reviews
c. policy analysis and analytical support
d. guidance on governmental and ministerial processes
e. budget management, contract management and service procurement support to assist the Committee to achieve its work plan within its allocated budget
f. central communications systems support for correspondence and public relations purposes, including secure communication between Committee Members and Agents
g. liaison on behalf of the Committee within and across government and non-government organisations
h. administrative support to organise, minute and follow up on committee meetings and/ or working groups as agreed within the work plan and within the budget set.
i. additional support for the Committee to carry out its functions, as agreed and budgeted for in the work plans.


These terms of reference will be reviewed three years from the date at which they are approved by the Commission.

Last updated 15/10/2018