Family Violence Act 2018
The purpose of the Family Violence Act is to stop and prevent family violence by:
- recognising that family violence, in all its forms, is unacceptable
- stopping and preventing perpetrators from inflicting family violence
- keeping victims, including tamariki and rangatahi, safe from family violence.
Family violence means violence inflicted against another person by any other person with whom that person is, or has been, in a family relationship. This could be their spouse or partner, or family member, or someone they ordinarily share a household with, or have a close personal relationship with. A person is not regarded as sharing a household with another person (for the purposes of being in a family relationship) just because they occupy the same house (for example, flatmates who are not a spouse, partner or family member, or who are not considered to be in a close personal relationship with another person, will not be included).
Principles of the Family Violence Act
The principles emphasise that family violence in all its forms is unacceptable. Family violence can appear trivial when viewed in isolation, but it may form part of a pattern of behaviour that is cumulatively harmful.
Other key principles provide that:
- family violence often is or includes coercive or controlling behaviour
- tamariki and rangatahi are particularly vulnerable to family violence and are at particular risk of harm to their current and future wellbeing
- victims of family violence should have access to services to help secure their safety from family violence
- perpetrators of family violence should have access to, and in some cases be required to engage with, services to help them stop and prevent their family violence
- arrangements that support the ongoing safety and wellbeing of the victim should wherever practicable be sustained, for example in terms of housing, education, community involvement and employment
- responses to family violence should be culturally appropriate, and responses involving Māori should reflect Māori customary values and practices
- the views of victims of family violence should be considered and respected unless a good reason exists for not doing so, for example where these views may compromise victims’ safety
- family violence agencies are referred to as ‘decision-makers’ and they should collaborate to identify, stop and prevent family violence.
The Family Violence Act refers to a ‘child’, which is defined as ‘a person who is under the age of 18 years’. The Oranga Tamariki Act distinguishes between child (tamariki) and young person (rangatahi) so it is important to be aware of this difference in language when engaging with the Police or the Ministry of Justice about family violence matters.
Information-sharing provisions in the Family Violence Act help family violence agencies and others to share the information they need to keep victims and their tamariki or rangatahi safe, and to prevent future family violence. The Act identifies a list of specified government family violence agencies for which new information-sharing powers and responsibilities apply, including Oranga Tamariki.
The information-sharing provisions from the Oranga Tamariki Act may also apply when sharing information. We need to be clear under what provisions and with whom we are sharing information.
Police Safety Orders
Police Safety Orders (PSOs) enable the Police to provide immediate protection to victims or potential victims of family violence.
From 1 July 2019, Police can issue PSOs to rangatahi aged 16 or 17, if the order is justified by special circumstances.
Protection Orders and reporting requirements
Protection Orders can be granted to help protect someone from violence perpetrated by a person they are or have been in a family relationship with. The Family Violence Act empowers the court to add any tamariki of the person needing protection to the order, even if they are not currently living with the person.
In addition, the new provisions enable either a registrar or a judge to direct Oranga Tamariki to provide written advice or a report when they are considering granting a Protection Order when the application was made by or against a tamaiti or rangatahi. These requests will be managed at the national contact centre.
Family Violence (Amendments) Act 2018
The Amendments Act improves responses to family violence in both criminal and civil law. The Amendments Act:
- ensures that the safety of victims, including tamariki and rangatahi, is the priority when courts make decisions on bail
- inserts the new serious offence of strangulation or suffocation into the Crimes Act 1961
- empowers judges considering applications under the Care of Children Act 2004 (CoCA) to make temporary Protection Orders where a CoCA order would not provide enough protection
- empowers judges to impose protective conditions for care arrangements if there has been family violence
- requires judges to consider the existence or breach of a Protection Order when they assess the safety of a tamaiti or rangatahi.