Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi –
Family violence is one of New Zealand’s most difficult social issues.
It can take a number of forms, including physical, verbal, emotional, economic, religious, and sexual abuse.
We understand the affects that family violence has on our society, our communities and our future generations.
We also understand the need to act sooner to keep victims safer and change perpetrator behaviour. And we need an innovative approach to better identify risk and recognise the patterns of family violence.
That is why this government is putting a stake in the ground and making changes to help reduce abuse in Kiwi families.
We are making system-wide changes. Across 16 different portfolios, Ministers and departments are working together to redesign the way our system prevents and responds to family violence.
This is part of our cross-agency work overseen by the Ministerial Group on Family Violence and Sexual Violence.
We are starting by overhauling our civil and criminal laws to build a more integrated and more effective legal framework for tackling family violence.
Our Family and Whanau Violence Legislation Bill is the biggest reform of family violence laws in 20 years.
The Bill proposes changes to better support victims and their families.
Protection orders will be easier to apply for with simpler application forms. And non-government organisations (NGOs) will be able to apply on behalf of particularly vulnerable victims who are unable to apply themselves.
We also understand the value of early intervention and helping perpetrators change their behaviours and break the intergenerational cycle.
That is why we will create an independent risk and needs assessment pathway for Police safety order referrals – directing perpetrators to programmes and services they need.
The Bill also proposes changes to better protect the safety of adult and child victims following separation. Courts must consider extra family violence factors when assessing a child’s safety in Care of Children Act (CoCA) proceedings, including whether a temporary protection order has been made and if there have been any breaches.
We want family violence offending to be clearly flagged in the criminal justice system. Our changes will facilitate the sharing of perpetrator information among all sectors and professionals to inform risk assessment and management, and assist the court processes.
The Bill also ensures family violence is effectively prosecuted and that behaviours are clearly criminalised by introducing new family violence offences of strangulation, coercion to marry, and assault on a family member.
On March 29, 2017, I had the opportunity of visiting ‘Gandhi Nivas,’ with Prime Minister Bill English. Located in Otahuhu, this facility is a partnership between Nirvana Foundation, Counties Manukau Police and Sahaayta Counselling and Social Support.
It provides early intervention and prevention services to at-risk individuals with the objective of helping them change their behaviour, reduce the likelihood of further domestic violence and increase safety for their families. These partnerships are effective in addressing root causes of domestic violence.
I am happy that Indian Newslink and its Editor have been involved with Gandhi Nivas from the early stage of planning and working.
Family violence is not a problem that Government can solve alone — it requires all New Zealanders to think differently. We all need to work together.
The Government is working hard to reduce New Zealand’s rate of family violence, however everyone in our community needs to think differently and take action to tackle this important issue.
Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi is Member of Parliament on National List, Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Law & Order, Parliamentary Private Secretary to Police Minister.
Prime Minister Bill English with Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi and Ranjna Patel during a visit to Gandhi Nivas in Otahuhu, Auckland on March 29, 2017.