by Jan Logie
The Green Party, along with community organisations and the media, has put domestic and sexual violence on the political agenda. I have asked 7 questions in the House and made 27 speeches on these topics. I may be a bit like a stuck record but these problems cause so much unnecessary harm.
Obviously we are looking forward to being in Government so we can make the changes needed to prevent more harm. Its also important that we hold the current Government to account for the changes they’ve made over the last three years. This is the time I’ve been in Parliament, so I’ll concentrate on those years:
1. Early on were the cuts to funding for Auckland Sexual Abuse Helpline – cuts I had to raise again a year later.
2. A rapist was released from jail and allowed to move in next door to his victim, who found there was nothing the police could do.
3. Then there was the introduction of fees to access the family court which Metiria laid a complaint over.
4. We also got to see the appalling impact of the ACC reforms as half the ACC counsellors opted out of the re-traumatising system, and sensitive claims spending by ACC halved.
5. On the upside the Law Commission reported on options for changing our pre-trial and trial processes to improve the appallingly low 1% conviction rate for sexual violence.
6. Then, on the downside, the new Minister of Justice took this work of the Commission’s agenda, despite hundreds of postiive submissions and agreement for many of the ideas.
7. Wellington Rape Crisis announced it faced closure for one day a week because of funding shortages but was saved after Hell Pizza stepping in with funding it needed. Hell was making up for having awarded a pizza to a person who disclosed they’d abused someone. Instead of showing leadership at this time, Ministers palmed the responsibility to comment publicly on this issue off on each other, as they desperately ducked for cover.
8. The Green Party surveyed the specialist sexual violence services and found that over 1/3 were looking at having to cut staff or services. The pressure of this, coupled with the previous points forced the government to finally agreed to my request for a select committee inquiry, helped by support by National party MP Alfred Ngaro.
9. Paula Bennett did take responsibility for sexual violence and we got positive legislation to enable victim/survivors to apply to the court for convicted offenders to prevent offenders moving in next door again.
10. Meanwhile, baseline funding for women’s refuges declined to the point where t least one refuge has resorted to crowd sourcing the funding needed to keep their service going.
11. The government chose not to fund Shakti women’s refuge in Wellington despite several deaths of women from ethnic communities in Wellington, and
12. The only 24/7 specialist sexual abuse support service in Chch closed this week, 20 years due to funding chagnes. This, depsite growing demand for its services.
13. While all this was going on we had the green paper and then white paper and vulnerable children’s bill, which progressively reduced the mention of domestic violence to nothing, despite DV being one of the most significant factors in child abuse in NZ.
14. We had the family court reforms that were widely and almost universally criticised as prioritising money saving over safety and good practice and the police decision to change their collection of statistics, so we could no longer get accurate family violence statistics.
15. Police also introduced without any consultation the ODARA risk assessment tool, for which the Minister is still stalling the release of its evaluation.
16. The National Government has also been responsible for introducing new police prosecution guidelines that have contributed to a reduction in charging rates despite an increase in reporting.
17. More recently we also seen the Government, without the support of the specialist agencies, change the content of the stopping violence programmes to take out a power analysis.
18. In the midst of all this, Minister Maurice Williamson intervened with the police on behalf of a domestic abusers, and the Minister of Justice lashed out at the media for highlighting the problems with that.
19. Which leads us to the current failure of political leadership from Murray McCully and John Key who failed to take seriously the issue of an alleged sexual attack on a young Wellington woman which allowed her alleged attacker to flee back to Malaysia.
And of course this is just a list of the government’s actions. Over this same time period we have as a country been horrified by the “roast busters, the death of several migrant women in Wellington, the murder of the Livingstone children in Dunedin, and the latest news that police misrepresented a case of child abuse resulting in a dismissal.
The Green Party has been there the whole way, listening to the community, proposing solutions, and challenging the government because New Zealand deserves better.