My mother (a GP) has spent a lifetime campaigning for better support for those affected by family or domestic violence.
New Zealand has one of the worst rates of family violence in the OECD.
One million New Zealanders are affected by the trauma of family and sexual violence every year, including 300,000 children. On average this means nearly 5000 people in Waitaki alone, and possibly hundreds of children.
We can’t sit by and let this continue. We have to take action to support survivors, and help break the cycle in our community.
That’s why I’m especially proud of the recent significant steps the Government has taken to progress its plan to tackle the long-term challenges facing New Zealand.
One of those challenges is family and sexual violence, so I’m really pleased that the Prime Minister has announced the largest investment ever into responding to and preventing this type of violence.
This package is first and foremost about supporting survivors and ensuring the immediate safety of victims and children. It offers better victim support through expanding essential specialist sexual violence services including a 24/7 crisis helpline. It also includes supporting victims through the court process, increasing capabilities for victims to submit their statements via videolink, and providing specialist training to legal professionals on how to deal with family and sexual violence cases.
The package also invests in prevention through a range of programmes, right through from information campaigns, both for the public and for specialists, to targeted intervention programmes. Those programmes help to both prevent violence occurring in the first place, and also work with perpetrators to prevent further violence.
Violence affects how children learn, it affects mental wellbeing, and puts people in a constant state of “fight or flight”. It also increases the risk of suicide.
We know violence and poverty are linked. Our plan to help improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders will lift more families and children out of poverty. Our families package means 384,000 families are better off by an average of $75 a week. Our extension to paid parental leave gives parents more time in those vital first months with their babies, and from the start of July the parental leave payment has gone up by more than $20 per week.
Our progress for parents is about fulfilling a commitment we made to give our children the very best start in life. As well as making New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child, we’re also making it easier for New Zealand families to get by day to day.
We’re helping more than a million people heat their home with the winter energy payment.
We’re reducing the costs of doctor’s visits by $20-$30 for 600,000 Kiwis.
We’ve made it cheaper to send kids to school by scrapping donations for decile 1-7 schools, and we’re removing NCEA fees.
We’re looking after parents, kids, and our families. This new lot of changes from the start of last month are part of how the Government is making a real difference in New Zealanders’ daily lives.
We will continue to tackle the long-term challenges, and to place the wellbeing of New Zealanders firmly at the heart of what we do.