John Key praised by family violence services

“If you act in a violent and controlling way, you can change this behaviour. Own the problem. Nothing will get better until you do. Ask for help. There is no shame in that.”

Today’s overhaul of the law has thrilled non-government organisations that are working to cut family violence rates.

Jane Drumm of the Auckland agency Shine, who travelled to Wellington for the speech, told the Herald she had never heard a prime minister speak so strongly about the issue.

“I have been doing this work now…for 33 years, and I have never in all that time heard such a strong statement from a politician. And talk about so many things that we have been pushing for, for many, many years.

“I just feel like we have a real opportunity that we can make a big difference.”

Women’s Refuge said the changes were a “giant step” in the right direction.

Changes announced today include:

• Creating new offences of non-fatal strangulation, coercion to marry, and assault on a family member.

• Making the safety of victims a principal consideration in all bail decisions, and at the centre of parenting and property orders.

• Flagging all family violence offences on criminal records. This will be done so the courts and police know when a person has such a history.

The changes come after nearly 500 detailed submissions from individuals and groups were received after the Government released a discussion document last August.