More than 300 family violence deaths in past 10 years warrants call for more help - report

Women in New Zealand experience a higher rate of violence from their intimate partners than women in 14 other OECD countries.

Source: 1 NEWS

During a 10 year period there were 312 family violence deaths in New Zealand, forcing the Family Violence Death Review Committee (FVDRC) to call on agencies to take more responsibility for the safety of family violence victims.

A FVDRC report sought changes to how both government and non-government organisations respond to family violence, the rate of violence, abuse, and deaths.

Practitioners were also asked to provide long-term assistance to victims rather than one-off safety advice, while a greater focus was required on the person using violence.

Violence should be recognised as being not just physical, but also used in the forms of control, coercion, and intimidation, the report said.

"We need to think differently about family violence and understand it is not a series of isolated incidents affecting an individual victim," FVDRC co-chair Professor Dawn Elder said.

The report also identifies how the family violence workforce – including the justice, child protection, and mental health and addiction sectors – can be strengthened and work together better.

"Treating abuse as a problem that can be remedied solely by giving victims advice and leaving them to take action alone, or treating abusive people as being beyond saving, doesn't work," Ms Elder said.

"Family violence is a pervasive problem in our society that has the potential to destroy the lives of both the direct victims, and indirect victims (usually children), and also the lives of those using violence. We need to work together and improve our responses considerably if we are going to bring about change."