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Posted by Philip on 13 September 2016, 10:57 am in , , ,

NZ Government crackdown on family violence – beating up on the beaten?

John Key has just announced an "overhaul of the family violence prevention system."

If it was a Labour government I'd be thinking, "About time." Under National, though, I fear it may be an exercise in bullying families in low socio-economic circumstances, rather than looking at the systemic oppression that often contributes to family violence.

The changes involve over 50 law changes, most of which, at first glance, seem to increase sentences, restraint and shaming, with criminal records being flagged as part of a new disclosure scheme. The establishment of a chief victims advisor, and an integrated safety response pilot to support victims and their families, is promising though.

Research, such as Ethnic Identity and Intimate Partner Violence in a New Zealand Birth Cohort (Marie, D., D. M. Fergusson, J. M. Boden (2008) Social Policy Journal of New Zealand, 33: 126-145) concluded:

that higher rates of IPV [Intimate Partner Violence] among Māori were not explained by cultural factors, and were largely explained by ethnic differences in exposure to socio-economic factors and exposure to family problems in childhood.

 The researchers observed:

Although the results reported reveal that identification as Māori is linked with an enhanced risk of being exposed to environmental factors associated with IPV , caution is required when interpreting this relationship. To suggest a direct causal link between ethnicity and violence would be remiss, as it is unclear how group identification might cause individual behaviour. Just as importantly, attributing cause to a group risks diminishing responsibility for problematic behaviour performed by individuals. With these caveats in mind, it is of concern that Māori appear to be more vulnerable or susceptible to IPV when this phenomenon is analysed at the group level. Clearly this issue urgently requires further empirical examination, as current explanations appear to fall short in accounting for the discrepancy.

I'm no expert on domestic violence, let alone on ethnic and socio-economic variations. However, the complexities of social issues like this are seldom properly understood, particularly by the right wing.

Time will tell whether the $130m cost over four years creates fewer or more victims.

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