The Government is set to carry out a sweeping change to the way family violence cases are managed by the justice system.
Among the announcements Prime Minister John Key made is that offenders will be identified permanently on their records.
“All family violence offending will be flagged on criminal records to ensure prior behaviour is clearly identified in all future decision-making,” said Key.
Apart from permanent identification of offenders the reforms include new specific offenses, process modifications and new services.
“[The changes include] creating a range of specific new offenses to better reflect what we know about family violence. Fox example, new offenses will include non-fatal strangulation, assault on a family member and coercion to marry,” Key announced.
Furthermore, he said that in situation involving family violence, the safety of the victims will be made a principal consideration in all bail decisions and central to parenting and property orders.
“We can therefore expect more abusers in custody rather than on bail,” Key said.
The family violence system revamp includes the allocation of $130m in new funding which will also be used to simplifying the process for getting protection orders.
“We know that victims often experience multiple counts of abuse before they get help so we will address barriers to getting protection orders such as simplifying forms and providing advice,” said Key.
Moreover, the changes include having others apply for protection orders on the victim’s behalf when the victim is too fearful as well as enabling police to refer at-risk families to a service provider to carry out risks and needs assessments. Key said that people will be able to refer themselves to the same services.
Moreover, there will be a drive to free up information sharing between family violence prevention agencies and professionals to make assistance quicker and far more responsive, Key said.
The new funding will also support a wider range of support services that will be available to perpetrators upon the issuing of protection orders, he said.
“We want to stop abuse, not only to protect victims, of course, but also because the single biggest predictor of children growing up to be either abusers of their own partners or families of their partners is if they themselves grew up in a home where such abuse occurred,” Key said.