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The level of family violence across New Zealand is simply unacceptable and has no boundaries. It does not care whether you are rich or poor, what area you come from, if you are rural or urban. It is destructive and devastating and too many families and communities have been affected from it.

I have been working in collaboration and attending meetings held by the MFVIN  (Maniapoto Family Violence Intervention Network) the people involved in MFVIN are individuals from the Waitomo/Otorohanga Community who are passionate about changing the thought behind domestic violence, engaging in discussion groups among all members of the community including some High School children and giving the tools needed for people to consider behaviour in their own relationships. 

Violence Free Waipa has a similar group of people and is split between Cambridge and Te Awamutu with Lesley Egglestone being the Te Awamutu co-ordinator. I recently met with Lesley to discuss the programmes and strategies being considered.

National decided to take action last year with a family violence package, and one year on we are making progress across a range of initiatives, such as working on intensive case management, looking into improving information judges receive about defendants and their histories, and exploring the possibility of establishing a family violence criminal disclosure scheme.

The Government spends an estimated $1.4 billion each year responding to family and sexual violence, so we want to make sure we are getting it right and providing the best services we can for families.

We need to take a hard look at the way agencies work together and what improvements can be made to help break the cycle of violence.  Laws alone won’t solve this problem, but they are the cornerstone we can build on.

We have now launched a discussion document which is open to everybody.  We want this to be a discussion that goes from the ground up.

The document raises a number of topics for discussion, including establishing a set of standalone family violence offences, ideas about improving the accessibility and effectiveness of protection orders, considering compelling police action in certain circumstances such as requiring mandatory arrest for all breaches of protection orders, and giving more prominence to victim safety in related legislation like the Care of Children Act.

To get different results, we have to do things differently. 

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