Stuart Nash: Breaking the cycle and investing in wellbeing

Opinion 24/05/2019

By Stuart Nash, Minister of Police, Labour Party MP.

If we have a shared goal of making sure New Zealand is the best place in the world to be a child, how do we decide what to invest in when the government budget rolls around every year? 

As Minister of Police, I can reel off a long list of distressing statistics to explain the scale of the problem.

Family harm investigations by Police have increased by 68% over 10 years.

Around 6,300 people suffered sexual assaults in the past year, an increase of almost five percent. The new crime of non-fatal strangulation, which only came into effect in December, has already resulted in 755 prosecutions.

Almost 300,000 children are affected by violence every year.

We know there is a long-term challenge to break the cycle of family violence. To do that, we must make investment decisions from a number of angles.

We must prevent harm in the first place.

We must ensure victims have the help they need as soon as possible. And as a wider government, we must better coordinate the work that many different agencies do.

I joined the Prime Minister and other Ministers at the weekend to announce that the single biggest investment ever made to address family and sexual violence will be part of next week’s budget.

How will our spending better respond to victims and survivors?

We are investing in training of doctors and nurses who are at the frontline of treatment.

It will include more funding for the new Police system of video recording victims’ statements at the scene. Cases where evidence is taken from a video statement are 77 percent more likely to result in a guilty plea. They also reduce the trauma for victims of having to provide a formal statement sometime after the event.

How will our new spending help to prevent harm?

We are investing in programmes for young people to help them understand healthy and safe relationships.

Men at risk of using violence are helped to shift their behaviour.

There will be new money to support parents who struggle, and alcohol and drug treatment services.

How are we ensuring the whole-of-government response wraps around those who need it most, at the right time and in the right way? There will be more support for 24/7 services to respond to crisis support for children and young people through Oranga Tamariki. There will be better support through the court system, emergency housing, counselling and mental health support.

Family violence and sexual violence have a profound effect on the safety of our children and on the health and wellbeing of our wider communities. This joined up approach across government is for the long-term benefit of the current and future generations. It’s about our collective wellbeing.

Stuart Nash is a Labour Party MP and Minister of Police.