New Family Violence Laws Effective 1 July 2019

Pasefika Proud supporter Rev. Saane Langi, Chief Executive of Pacific counselling service in South Auckland Langima’a Oceania Counselling, explains the new legislation passed by Parliament to improve the legislative framework for family violence

saane HERO

Part of the new Family Violence Act 2018 and the Family Violence (Amendments) Act 2018(external link) came into effect on 1 July 2019.

The new Acts improve the legislative framework for family violence by giving priority to the safety of victims, including children, and preventing perpetrators from inflicting family violence.

Pasefika Proud supporter Rev. Saane Langi, Chief Executive of Langima’a Oceania Counselling Service, a new Pacific counselling service in South Auckland says the new legislation is one part of a whole of government work programme to transform the response system for victims and perpetrators of family and sexual violence in New Zealand.

The two new laws are being implemented in two parts: 

Phase one took effect on 3 December 2018 and strengthened criminal law.  Three new family violence offences were introduced; victims safety was given priority in bail decisions and it was made easier for complainants to give evidence by video recording.

Rev. Saane Langi says that phase two will take effect on 1 July 2019 and strengthens family law by:

  • making improvements to court orders to keep victims safer and hold perpetrators to account
  • giving greater emphasis to coercive and controlling behaviour in the legal definition of family violence
  • providing principles to guide decision making
  • giving family violence offences greater visibility in the courts
  • removing legal barriers to information sharing between agencies (external link)to increase victims’ safety
  • identifying Family Violence Agencies.

 A third phase of implementation will embed two longer term changes.  These are:

  • Increasing support for people bound by a Police Safety Order (PSO). 
  • Testing of a risk and needs assessment process for people bound by a PSO concludes in August 2019 and will be rolled out in 2020.
  • The family court will be able to direct respondents to Protection Orders, through an assessor, to a wider range of services, such as drug and alcohol treatment. This will be included in the conditions of a Protection Order and is in addition to attendance at a non-violence programme.

If you have any questions about the law or its implementation, please email: familyviolencelaw@justice.govt.nz