Family: Overhaul of family violence laws

(Ministry of Social Development's Are You OK campaign)

The John Key led National Government has announced an overhaul of New Zealand’s family violence laws which will see more support for victims and new offences introduced.

“New Zealand’s rate of family violence is unacceptable. Police currently respond to 110,000 family violence call-outs a year. Children are present at nearly two-thirds of these incidents. There are too many Kiwi households stuck in a life of fear and despair. They need help to stop the violence and repression so they can lead healthier, happier and more fulfilling lives," noted the PM while announcing the changes.

This comes after a two year review of family violence laws by Justice Minister Amy Adams, which will see more than 50 changes to the current Domestic Violence Act.
Some of the new measures, which will cost around $130 million over four years. include:

• Making the safety of victims a principal consideration in all bail decisions, and central to parenting and property orders.

• Flagging all family violence offending on criminal records to ensure Courts and Police know when they are dealing with people with histories of family violence.

• Creating new offences of non-fatal strangulation and assault on a family member, with tougher sentences than common assault. Coercion to marry will also be criminalised.

• Enforcing tougher penalties for people who commit crimes while subject to a Protection Order.

“The new measures are focused on faster and more effective intervention. We have to get better at identifying dangerous behaviour that can escalate into more serious violence much earlier. The challenge of reducing family violence lies with all of us, with the Government, the Police, social agencies, and with everyone who knows that violence is occurring," Key added.

Children: NZ to get it's first child sex offender register

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has announced that New Zealand’s first child sex offender register will soon get under way, following the passing of enabling legislation. The Child Protection (Child Sex Offender Government Agency Registration) Bill has passed its third reading in Parliament, with the register set to commence 30 days after Royal assent is granted. Offenders will be required to be on the register for a term of life, 15 years or eight years depending on their offence and the sentence imposed.