Family violence perpetrators need better response

Better responses to perpetrators of family violence are needed if New Zealand's high rate of family violence is to be cut.

The call for improved responses is made in a paper published today by the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse.

“Victims of family violence absolutely need specialist services and support to enable their safety and recovery,” says author Professor Devon Polaschek, from Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Psychology.

“To reduce rates of family violence, we also need to invest in a system that responds to perpetrators.

“New Zealand has no such system and responses are piecemeal, insufficient and mired in a complex web of bureaucracy.”

Behaviour change programmes were too short to change the behaviour of a lifetime, and funding for people self-referring to programmes was limited, she says.

Professor Polaschek called for responses by Police, Courts, Corrections, Child Protection and non-Government agencies to be based on high quality evidence and a shared conceptual understanding, better integrated and extending beyond simply responding to crises.

“Perpetrator responses will also be more effective if more funds are invested in public education and social marketing campaigns, similar to road safety campaigns,” says Professor Polaschek.

“These efforts work to change norms that enable violence, including questioning gender roles, especially what it is to be a man, a partner, and a father in New Zealand. Family violence includes intimate partner violence, child abuse and abuse of any family or whānau member.”

The New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse is the national centre for family and whānau violence research and information, funded by Superu, managed by Auckland UniServices and hosted by the University of Auckland.

White Ribbon Day is on 25 November—as is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.