Simon Collins

Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

Rebel's report pre-empts Glenn inquiry

Ex-director of family violence probe produces own solution for ‘broken, fragmented’ system.

Deborah Mackenzie (left) and Ruth Herbert want to rationalise the 774 separate family violence services the Government finances. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Deborah Mackenzie (left) and Ruth Herbert want to rationalise the 774 separate family violence services the Government finances. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The former director of Sir Owen Glenn's family violence inquiry has produced her own solution without waiting for the inquiry to finish its work.

Ruth Herbert, whose resignation last year almost destroyed Sir Owen's $2 million inquiry, has written her own 155-page report advocating an integrated "one door, right door" system to replace an approach she sees as "broken, fragmented and inconsistent".

She and her co-author, former Auckland regional family violence network co-ordinator Deborah Mackenzie, say their integrated system would add $22 million to the $70 million the state already spends on 774 separate family violence services.

But they believe it would save many times that amount in social and economic costs by reducing family violence.

Ms Herbert, 61, has said she fled from a violent relationship in the 1980s, six months pregnant, with "a loaded gun pointed at my head". She co-founded the Roundtable on Violence Against Women in 2008 and headed the Social Development Ministry's family violence unit in 2011-12.

Her report, The Way Forward, argues that the 38 existing regional family violence networks, 62 local family violence inter-agency response systems and six family safety teams all operate in isolation.

"The current system is unfit to provide a 'one door, right door' response to victims/survivors or abusers seeking help for intimate partner violence and child abuse and neglect," it says.

Ms Mackenzie said that when she co-ordinated the Auckland network she had no backing at a national level.

"So you might find that offenders are being bailed to the victims' homes on a regular basis, for example, but there was nowhere to take that information."

The report proposes spending an extra $7.5 million a year to strengthen about 32 regional family violence "hubs", $2.5 million for a new national "backbone agency" and $12 million to boost services such as providing victim advocates in all court districts.

Ms Herbert said each hub should make sure all local doctors, teachers and other professionals understood family violence, knew how to ask about it and knew what to do when they found it.

Glenn inquiry spokeswoman Marie McNicholas said Ms Herbert was welcome to produce her own report. The inquiry has produced an initial People's Report based on personal testimonies from 500 people and is working to complete its own recommendations by the end of this year.

One door, right door

• New national agency to co-ordinate tackling child abuse and domestic violence.
• Regional "hubs" to link services and professionals.
• Seeking help from any service or professional would be "the right door" to get whatever help you need.

On the web

www.theimpactcollective.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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