Family Violence Death Review Committee report recommends changes in thinking and approach

Thu 25 Feb 2016

The Family Violence Death Review Committee (FVDRC) has released its Fifth Annual Report. The report focuses on the shifts in thinking about ...

The Family Violence Death Review Committee (FVDRC) has released its Fifth Annual Report.

The report focuses on the shifts in thinking about family violence that are needed if New Zealand is to develop an integrated family violence system.

It calls for a number of changes in the ways government and non-government organisations (NGOs) address family violence as a result.

Key messages of the Fifth Annual Report include:

  • "there is a need to stop asking victims to keep themselves safe from abusive partners - practitioners need to proactively make sure victims are safe
  • practitioners need to provide long-term assistance to victims rather than one-off safety advice
  • there must be more focus on the person using violence, in addition to the victim – changing the behaviours of those using violence is the most effective way to prevent family violence
  • violence must be recognised as being not just physical – it is also carried out through control, coercion, and intimidation. These behaviours trap victims."

The report includes a number of case studies to illustrate commonly held misconceptions about intimate partner violence and the response required from services. (There are additional case studies in the full report.)

The report argues that different thinking about family violence is required. This includes reframing: 

  • "family violence as a pattern of harm: 
    • compounded by structural inequities 
    • that is likely to have multiple victims - past, current and future
  • IPV [intimate partner violence] as a form of entrapment
  • victims' responses to IPV as acts of resistance, not acts of empowerment
  • IPV and CAN [child abuse and neglect] as entangled forms of abuse with entangled intervention opportunities
  • safety and empowerment as collective endeavours, which are dependent on systemic responses to people using violence
  • prevention as taking place in a pre-violence space, to being intertwined with restorative and safety responses."

The report contains detailed discussion of the following issues:

  • Mapping the current system: a "fragmented assortment of services and initiatives ... commonly underpinned by old ways of thinking about family violence"
  • Responses that can cause harm, and more effective responses
  • Reframing understandings of IPV and CAN. These are entangled forms of abuse which must be identified and addressed together. The impact of structural inequities needs to be understood and addressed.
  • Developing a "road map" for moving towards an integrated family violence system. Shifts are needed in a range areas including integrating system responses, services, funding contracts and governance structures; responsive monitoring of complex system responses; and proactive long-term investment.
  • Strengthening organisational responsiveness by the justice sector, Child, Youth and Family, and mental health and addition services
  • Reflections on prevention

The report states that in the current system, "Necessary (but missing) infrastructure includes national and regional governance structures with a unified strategic vision; adequately resourced specialist family violence services; a common risk assessment, [34] risk management and response framework; nationally consistent information-sharing processes; and a skilled workforce with agreed practice standards." The report concludes, "Without change, we will continue to repeat inaccurate ways of thinking, which then contribute to potentially harmful ways of responding. We can, and must, interrupt this reinforcing and potentially fatal loop." The report does not contain updates on statistics on family violence deaths. A data report will be released by the committee later in 2016.


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Report asks agencies to take more responsibility for family violence victims, Manawatu Standard, 26.02.2016

Black Ribbon NZ disappointed with Report, Press Release: Black Ribbon New Zealand, Scoop, 26.02.2016

Stop asking victims to protect themselves - report, Radio NZ, 25.02.2016

Outdated attitudes from agencies not helping family violence victims – report, Stuff, 25.02.2016

Family violence overhaul needed, report says, Newshub, 25.02.2016

312 family violence deaths in past 10 years warrants call for more help – report, TVNZ, 25.02.2016

Funding cuts at heart of family violence crisis, Press Release: New Zealand Labour Party, 25.02.2016

Dunne Speaks: Amnesty and Family Violence reports, Scoop: United Future NZ Party, 25.02.2016

Ambitious family violence report welcomed, Press release: New Zealand Government (Peter Dunne), Scoop, 25.02.2016  

Family violence expert report reinforces Govt's programme, Press Release: New Zealand Government (Amy Adams and Anne Tolley), 25.02.2016

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Family Violence Death Review Report makes critical points, Press Release: Shine, 25.02.2016

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Better coordination needed on domestic violence information, NewstalkZB, 25.2.2016

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Domestic violence charities support Govt agency integration, Newstalk ZB, 25.02.2016


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