Significant improvements are needed if the Government’s joint venture to reduce family violence and sexual violence is to succeed.
That’s the finding of the report Working in new ways to address family violence and sexual violence, published today by Auditor-General John Ryan.
New Zealand has high and enduring rates of family violence and sexual violence that affect hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders every year. These behaviours contribute to poor economic, cultural, and social outcomes in communities all across New Zealand. In 2015, it was estimated that the Government spent more than $1.4 billion annually addressing the consequences of family violence.
The Government established the joint venture in 2018 to transform how government agencies work together, with Māori, and with service providers to address these complex, intergenerational problems.
The Auditor-General found that people working on the joint venture are highly committed to improving outcomes for those affected by family violence and sexual violence. However, while the joint venture has been effective in some areas, only limited changes have been seen in how government agencies work together.
“The joint venture has been a challenge for all those involved, but it is the right challenge,” says Mr Ryan.
“Sustained action is required to realise the joint venture’s potential to improve the lives of New Zealanders affected by these forms of violence.
“To achieve this change, everyone in the joint venture needs a shared and clear understanding about their purpose, respective roles, and accountabilities.”
Mr Ryan is particularly concerned about how the joint venture’s is working with Māori.
“The joint venture’s partnership with Māori can be successful only when government agencies and the responsible Ministers are realistic about what a partnership means,” says Mr Ryan.
“The joint venture needs to reach clear agreement with Ministers and Māori on the nature and purpose of their engagement, their respective roles, and the support that Māori need to engage effectively in this partnership.”
Similarly, the joint venture needs to significantly improve its relationships with service providers and other stakeholders, and agencies need to make resourcing the joint venture’s work a priority.
“To succeed, the agencies involved need to commit their most knowledgeable staff to the joint venture’s work, and to consider their own work programmes in the context of the joint venture’s priorities.”
Mr Ryan acknowledges that work is already under way to address the issues in his report, particularly in developing the joint venture’s relationship with Māori, clarifying the joint venture’s role, and communicating this role to the agencies involved.
The report makes five recommendations to support the joint venture in these, and other, necessary improvements, and ultimately to achieve the transformational change needed to improve the lives of those affected by family violence and sexual violence.
This report is first part of a wider programme of work the Office has planned to look at the Government’s investment in reducing family and sexual violence. Other work will look at how effectively services are being delivered by joint venture agencies.
“I intend to carry out further work to monitor the progress of the joint venture and its success in reducing family and sexual violence over the coming years,” Mr Ryan says.