Family Court Review

The Justice and Electoral Select Committee have returned their report, with attached minority reports from Labour and the Greens.  Read the full report here or check out WAVES's summary of the main points here.





WAVES Trust's final submission to the Family Court Proceedings Reform Bill has been presented, read it here.


On Wednesday 6 May 2013 WAVES's Manager Peter and researcher Jo spoke to the Select Committee about the submission, read a copy of our notes for that presentation here.

News items on the Select Committee hearings:


There is also a community Facebook page titled 'Save our Family Court', check it out here.


Information about  our submission process

Submissions on proposals laid out in the Family Court Review discussion document were made in February 2012.

We consulted with a group of stakeholders about the announced changes to the Family Court in November 2012, read more here.

Plan of action for the WAVES Trust submission:

Submissions on the Family Court Proceedings Reform Bill are due on 13 February 2013.

Preparing our submission:

The Bill is extensive and covers a number of different areas of legislation.  Our previous meetings suggest we need to focus on issues around a number of different themes including:

Theme 1: Need for Family Court to provide better responses to family violence including:

  1. more robust family violence screening
  2. improve responses to families affected by violence, including strengthening existing legislative provisions contained in the Care of Children Act and Domestic Violence Act.
  3. assess the impact of proposed changes to programme registration and penalties for protection order breaches

Theme 2: The need for the Family Court to provide non-FV families with:

  1.  simple and accessible support for early resolution
  2. to function in ways that meet children’s timeframes
  3. to reduce as far as possible adversarial processes that promote conflict not conciliation

Theme 3: Legislative changes must reflect NZ’s obligations under international treaties including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other Human Rights conventions.

Plan for our Submission:

Unfortunately given the time available to us we are unable to comprehensively address all of these themes listed above. 

Our plan is to address theme 1. and aspects of theme 2. as they apply to the need to reduce processes that promote conflict and provide protection for families affected by violence (e.g. through representation and timely FV screening).  We will reference international treaties but will not make these a focus of our submission.

In our submission we will use the following yardsticks to assess the changes proposed in the Bill:

  1. The vision of a family-friendly Court drawn from the opinions expressed in our consultations over this review in 2011 and 2012 (we’ll send out to you a summary of that vision during January)
  2. The goals of the Review expressed in the Bill, being “to ensure a modern, accessible family justice system that is responsive to children and vulnerable people, and is efficient and effective.”
  3. Our sector’s knowledge of family violence:
    1. ways it is performed in Family Court settings and ways to screen for FV
    2. ways to mitigate use of the courts to perpetuate abuse
    3. ways to enhance the Court’s protection of victims and children.

Further consultation meetings:

We have booked the Community Waitakere Resource Centre on Ratanui St, Henderson, on the following dates for two further consultation meetings:

Tuesday 22nd January 10-12noon: to discuss changes in the Bill affecting Court responses to FV (please RSVP by Monday 21st Jan)

Thursday 31st January 10-12noon: to discuss what other changes are needed for the Family Court to better respond to FV (please RSVP by Friday 25th Jan)

Timetable moving forward:

Our next consultation meeting is on 22 January, read the Agenda here.  We have completed documenting the changes proposed in the Bill that are relevant to the family violence sector, the next steps are:

  • 22 January consultation meeting to discuss changes in the Bill affecting Court responses to FV
  • 31 January consultation meeting to discuss what other changes are needed for the Family Court to better respond to FV
  • 6 February send out a draft submission for review

Where to find support for other matters:

For those of you with an interest in the areas not being covered by our submission you could consider contacting the following organisations:

Want to be involved?

If you want to contribute to the development of our submission or simply hear more about it - contact us using the form below.

Enquiry about Family Court Submission(s)

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