There are a range of legislative responses, action plans, and programmes to support those experiencing family violence and sexual violence in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Te Aorerekura: the National Strategy for the Elimination of Family Violence and Sexual Violence is a 25-year Strategy and Action Plan for eliminating family violence and sexual violence. There is a stronger focus on primary prevention, healing, and the critical role of tangata whenua and community leadership for achieving intergenerational change.
Manatū Wāhine is an associate agency of Te Puna Aonui and is committed to supporting this important work.
New Zealand has a range of legislative responses to family and sexual violence, including:
- Crimes Act 1961: the foundational piece of modern criminal justice legislation in New Zealand. Since 1961, many amendments and repeals have been made to the Act to update it for a contemporary context.
- Human Rights Act 1993: enacted to provide better protection of human rights in New Zealand in general accordance with United Nations Covenants or Conventions on Human Rights, including freedom from discrimination and freedom from violence.
- Domestic Violence Act 1995: enacted to ensure the legal protection for victims of any physical, sexual, and psychological domestic violence. This act was reviewed in 2012 and was repealed and superseded by the Family Violence Act 2018.
- Employment Relations Act 2000: allows people affected by family violence short-term leave.
- Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015: aims to help people dealing with repetitive and serious harmful digital communications. It has ten communication principles to guide how we communicate online.
- Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Act 2018: adds legal protections in the workplace for people affected by domestic violence.
- Sexual Violence Legislation Act 2021: aims to reduce secondary harm to victims of sexual violence within the justice system.
New Zealand’s international response
New Zealand is committed to preventing violence against women and girls at an international level. Our key international commitment to prevent violence is to the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
In July 2018, the government’s work and progress was examined by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women on its 2016 eighth periodic report. The examination highlighted family and sexual violence as issues of significant concerns.
In its response to New Zealand’s 2020 interim report, the CEDAW committee advised that more work is required to improve Family Court systems (the Ministry of Justice is leading work in this area). The next CEDAW report is due in 2023.