Family Violence

Family Violence, the Law and Restorative Justice Conference

The Family Violence, the Law, and Restorative Justice Conference held at Parliament on 7–8 May 2015 attracted huge interest, resulting in both days being over-subscribed and with substantial waiting lists.

The event was organised by Professor Chris Marshall, holder of the Diana Unwin Chair in Restorative Justice at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University, with funding assistance from the Law Foundation. The conference was attended by 200 people and followed the next day by a workshop for 140 practitioners at St John’s Conference Centre in the city.

The conference was opened by the Minister of Justice, Hon. Amy Adams, and featured Professor Leigh Goodmark from the University of Maryland's Law School as keynote speaker.

A specialist on gendered violence, Professor Goodmark offered a critique of the direction that government policy and legislation have taken over the past 30 years on domestic violence and explored the potential of alternative, community-based approaches, such as restorative justice.

Her presentations were followed by panel responses from senior policymakers, judges, academics, social services providers, family violence experts and restorative justice practitioners.

Other speakers included Professor Chris Marshall, Rachel Smith, the lead coordinator of the Family Violence Death Review Committee, Dr Shirley Julich from Massey University, and Ruth Herbert, a prominent independent researcher who has written on the need for a more integrated, systemic response to family violence in New Zealand.

"Both days were incredibly rich events," Professor Marshall says.

"A total of 35 presenters were involved at some point, bringing an amazing range of knowledge, skill, experience and cultural insight.

"Family violence is a deeply-rooted problem in our society, and there are no quick fixes. But restorative justice mechanisms have a valuable role to play, especially when embedded in larger wrap-around interventions that combine multiple specialist services.

"Hopefully, our two-day event laid a foundation for greater co-operation in the future between domestic violence agencies and restorative justice providers. We owe it to the victims of this uniquely destructive form of abuse to work together in this way."

Paul Nixon, the Chief Social Worker, commented that both events were "really well organised and superbly delivered" and "full of challenge and thought-proving ideas".

He acknowledged the Chair's "leadership and vision for making these two days of conferencing happen".

During her visit Professor Goodmark also delivered public lectures in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, and offered a joint presentation with Professor Marshall and Professor Julie Stubbs from New South Wales to the District Court Judges Triennial Conference on family and sexual violence.

Panel discussion on the
second day of the
View from the Gallery on
the first day of the
Professor Goodmark
speaks to the
practitioners workshop
Family Violence and Restorative Justice Conference Videos Online

Several short films from the Family Violence, the Law and Restorative Justice Conference in 2015 are now available on our Youtube channel. A keynote address on legal responses to domestic violence by Professor Leigh Goodmark is linked below.

Visiting Scholar speaks on Family Violence and Restorative Justice

Leigh Goodmark, Professor of Law at the University of Maryland was brought to New Zealand in May 2015 by the Chair in Restorative Justice and the New Zealand Law Foundation. In an interview on Radio New Zealand Professor Goodmark says that while prosecuting offenders serves some women well, what's also needed is a system that better responds to the wishes and needs of those that are enmeshed in violent relationships.