Chief executives from 10 government agencies will now be held accountable as part of a new strategy to end New Zealand's appalling record of family and sexual violence.
The yet-to-be-named "joint venture" across the public service will report to a board of the chief executives to establish a single point of leadership and accountability, Jan Logie announced today at the annual Māori Women's Welfare League conference in Gisborne.
Victims find it difficult to get help - as do offenders - because of a fragmented approach from government agencies and community services, which have not been measured to see if they work or not.
"We have to stop splitting this issue up into half a dozen unconnected silos," said Logie, the Under-Secretary to the Minister of Justice for domestic and sexual violence issues.
"Family and sexual violence are complicated, affect every part of our community and demand a coordinated, committed response."
The board includes the chief executives of Oranga Tamariki, Health, Te Puni Kōkiri, Social Development, Education, Justice, Poilce, ACC, Corrections and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
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The first task of the all-of-government group is to develop a national strategy and action plan, and for the first time, prepare a single integrated package across the agencies for next year's Budget.
Papers released by the previous National government showed taxpayers spend $1.4 billion on family violence each year, but Logie said only 1 per cent of that was spent on prevention.
Logie agreed more money needed to be spent on prevention and rehabilitation programmes, but was unable to yet provide specific details on dollar amounts.
Social services on the frontline of dealing with family violence, such as Shine or the Women's Refuge, received a $76 million boost in this year's Budget, spread over four years, which was part of the coalition agreement between Labour and New Zealand First.
In a world first, Green MP Logie has also ushered through new legislation to allow domestic violence victims to take up to 10 days of paid leave.
She told the Herald the "joint venture" would steer changes to make it easier for victims to get help.
"One woman told me getting support was like walking in a forest, with booby traps everywhere, without a map."
Responsibility for addressing New Zealand's "unacceptable" rates of violence is currently spread across at least 10 different government agencies.
Logie said the new board of chief executives will clarify who is responsible for what, identify priorities for action, and guide investment into plans for prevention and early intervention.
Making the high-powered group of chief executives accountable will drive the necessary change through the agencies, said Logie, although the actual measure had yet to be determined.
However, she said the joint venture would be report on its progress to a Select Committee in Parliament and an annual report.
Logie acknowledged the work of the previous National government and hoped both sides of Parliament would be able to work together to tackle the complex social issues.
All New Zealanders had a part to play said Logie, who hoped to help create a culture where family violence was the "aberration, not tragically commonplace".
Documents released to the Herald under the Official Information Act show previous efforts to develop an "effective integrated family and sexual violence system" have failed.
This was because of "competing cross-agency demands, an absence of an overarching strategy, lost momentum as a consequence of changing priorities, insufficient community involvement and because key stakeholders are not accountable".
The aide memoire to Minister for Children Tracey Martin by Oranga Tamariki supported the joint-venture approach but said it was unlikely, by itself, to reduce violence.
"It is important that we also ensure that people impacted by family and sexual violence can access help when they need it.
"Recent New Zealand evaluations and research have identified both insufficient volumes of family and sexual violence services, and a mix of services that does not properly target need.
"Addressing these gaps is likely to require significant and sustained government expenditure."
The board of the joint venture includes the chief executives of the following departments.
• Oranga Tamariki
• Te Puni Kōkiri
• Social Development
• The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet