A new strategy to combat family and sexual violence

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

For the first time, chief executives from across the public service will be taking collective steps to end family and sexual violence in New Zealand.

The new "joint venture" was outlined by under-secretary to the Minister of Justice, Jan Logie at the annual conference of the Māori Women's Welfare League (MWWL) in Gisborne.

Logie says the aim is "to make sure that we respond better to support victims of domestic violence and help people who are using violence to change.”

The initiative will mean a higher level of cohesion and accountability for government agencies who will be reporting to parliament.

Chief executive at Te Puni Kōkiri, Michelle Hippolite says, “At the moment we're motivated to work in our own portfolios, this approach of the board of a joint venture...says we've all got to have skin in the game.”

The joint venture business unit will report to a board made up of chief executives from ten government agencies, including Oranga Tamariki, Te Puni Kōkiri, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Development, Police, the Ministry of Education, ACC, Corrections and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Hippolite says, “This is about trying to change the way we think about things, how we as agencies have to work together.”

New Zealand's State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes says, “We work together on the ground and we work together at the top of the system.”

An independent Māori advisory group will be set up which will represent hapū and kaupapa Māori organisations already involved in addressing the issues.

Hippolite says, “We've got to shift from "it's this problem" to actually what might work according to those whānau that experience that.”

Logie says, “This is our chance to bring everyone together on the same page, with the community being informed by Māori wisdom and mātauranga (knowledge) to be able to turn around our response.”

Public consultations for the new strategy will begin in the new year.