'Significant improvements' needed in Government's joint venture on family, sexual violence — Auditor-General

The Auditor-General says "significant improvements" are needed for the Government's joint venture to reduce family and sexual violence to succeed. 

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The agencies tasked with addressing New Zealand’s violence rates are failing to work together, according to a new Auditor-General report. Source: 1 NEWS

In a report released today, John Ryan said only limited changes have been seen in how government agencies work together.

The joint venture was established in 2018 to transform how government agencies work together with Māori, and with service providers, to tackle the problem.

New Zealand has high, enduring rates of family violence and sexual violence, which affects hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders every year.

The behaviours contribute to poor economic, cultural, and social outcomes in communities all across New Zealand.

"Sustained action is required to realise the joint venture’s potential to improve the lives of New Zealanders affected by these forms of violence," Ryan said.

"To achieve this change, everyone in the joint venture needs a shared and clear understanding about their purpose, respective roles, and accountabilities."

Ryan said he was particularly concerned about how the joint venture is working with Māori.

"The joint venture’s partnership with Māori can be successful only when government agencies and the responsible ministers are realistic about what a partnership means," he said.

“The joint venture needs to reach clear agreement with ministers and Māori on the nature and purpose of their engagement, their respective roles, and the support that Māori need to engage effectively in this partnership."

Ryan said the joint venture needs to significantly improve its relationships with service providers and other stakeholders, and agencies need to make resourcing the joint venture’s work a priority.

"To succeed, the agencies involved need to commit their most knowledgeable staff to the joint venture’s work, and to consider their own work programmes in the context of the joint venture’s priorities." 

Ryan said work was already under way to address the issues in his report, particularly in developing the joint venture’s relationship with Māori, clarifying the joint venture’s role, and communicating this role to the agencies involved.

The report made five recommendations, but Ryan pointed out it was part of a wider programme of work his office planned to look at, which was the Government’s investment in reducing family and sexual violence.

Other work would also look at how effectively services are being delivered by joint venture agencies, he said.

"I intend to carry out further work to monitor the progress of the joint venture and its success in reducing family and sexual violence over the coming years," Ryan said.

In a statement to 1 NEWS, Family and Sexual Violence Minister Marama Davidson said Ryan's report affirmed the direction she was taking with the portfolio — that the old ways of siloed working cannot continue.

"Some of the issues are something I’ve personally, actively worked on with colleagues and tangata whenua since I became minister late last year, because it is essential to the transformation we need," she said.

"I will continue to work with my ministerial colleagues and the JV Board to ensure the recommendations are taken seriously."