Kia ora koutou,

Welcome to our newsletter which provides news about the Ministry of Social Development’s work programme to strengthen family violence and sexual violence services.

In this update you’ll find information about:

Psycho-social court support pilot completed

The psycho-social court support service piloted in Auckland over the last 12 months has been completed.

The pilot service provided through Auckland HELP offered psycho-social support and specialist trauma-care and expertise for survivors of sexual violence going through the criminal justice system.

Malatest International evaluated the pilot. The key findings from the evaluation are summarised below.

The evaluation showed the pilot provided survivors with:

  • a sense of empowerment to persevere through the court process
  • an understanding that they were believed and heard
  • psycho-social skills to physically and mentally cope with court processes before, during and after trials.

The pilot provided criminal justice system stakeholders with:

  • a value-for-money service within the criminal justice sector
  • opportunities to better focus on their core responsibilities and tasks within the court system, in the knowledge the court support pilot provided their clients with the support they needed.

The delivery of the pilot highlighted that:

  • although Auckland HELP is based in central Auckland the pilot’s services extended to clients living across and outside of the region
  • the pilot delivered a range of service components for clients throughout all stages of the criminal justice system from service referral through to trial preparation, trial, verdict and any necessary follow up support
  • the delivery of service components and client pathways are complex and non-linear, with continuous support being provided despite potential trial complications like delays, mistrials and appeals.

Feedback from interviews

Quotes from interviews include:

  • “It’s not just about preparing them for [how] the trial is going to be… but also addressing… their experience, what they’re feeling, what they’re going through… Having someone that’s validating and normalising that and also helping prepare them and give them some very tangible skills that they can use while they’re at the court…” (HELP staff)
  •  “A victim was in the stand for three days in the end, and the victim’s mother was needing a lot of support as well and so [CSC] took care of all of that… she’s valuable and really useful at trial… We had a lot going on ourselves, so it meant… we knew the victim and her family were taken care of and [CSC] did a fantastic job there.” (Justice sector stakeholder)

We are currently working to finalise this report with the Malatest team. Once the report is finalised we will publish it on our website.

Find out more about the pilot

Support for the sexual violence services sector

An independent working group has now completed its report on a project to ensure providers are well-supported to respond to the needs of people affected by sexual violence.

Since our last update in May, two more sector working group meetings have been held, where work was completed on the group’s recommendations.

The project’s sponsors – MSD and ACC – have now received the working group’s report which identifies several recommendations to strengthen the support for the sector.

MSD and ACC will now work together to determine the next steps for consideration at a cross-agency government working group later this month.

A further update will be provided in August.

We would like to take this opportunity to again thank the sector working group representatives for their valuable contribution to this project.

Find out more about this project

Upcoming visits to sexual violence providers

We signalled in the last newsletter that we want to visit currently contracted sexual violence service providers to talk about the recent Budget announcement.

In May the Government announced the allocation of $90.3 million to MSD to strengthen support for adult victims/survivors and perpetrators of sexual violence, and their families and whānau. The focus of the funding in the new financial year (2019/20) will be to ensure service continuity.

The meetings will provide an opportunity to reflect on what has been working well, what providers might like to see change, and discuss the opportunities available with increased investment.

We have sent invitations to providers to meet with members of our team between late July and mid-August and are in the process of confirming details.

If you have not received an invitation but are part of the sexual violence sector and interested in contributing to this discussion, please get in touch with us. Email us at and we can arrange to meet with you.

Find out more about the 2019 Budget funding

Safe to talk – finalist in Spirit of Service awards

The national sexual violence helpline – Safe to talk Kōrero mai ka ora – is a finalist in the public sector’s Spirit of Service awards.

Safe to talk provides free, confidential information and support for people affected by sexual violence. People can get advice and support from trained specialists and can be connected to support services in their community.

The Spirit of Service Awards, which are run by the State Services Commission, are an opportunity to celebrate outstanding public services and public sector initiatives delivering great outcomes for New Zealanders.

Between February 2018 and May 2019 Safe to talk connected with over 5,700 people through over 9,800 phone calls, webchats, texts, SMS messages or emails.

Feedback from people who have used Safe to talk is overwhelmingly positive. The first evaluation has shown that Safe to talk is making a difference for people.

People using the service like that they are in control of the process. It creates a space for people to open up and disclose what has happened to them and, when they are ready, be referred to support in their local community so they can continue their journey of recovery. They determine their journey, and when they want to reach out to other frontline support services.

The awards will be announced in September.

Family violence funding approach developed

Over the past year we have been working with providers, communities and other government agencies to develop a new approach to how we fund family violence services.

We have been focused on developing an approach which looks to a future where providers are sustainably-funded and services are whānau-centred, outcomes-focused and integrated.

We heard from people about what needs to change in the current system, in particular to allow services to go beyond crisis management to support long term recovery, helping to enable communities everywhere in New Zealand to eliminate family violence for the next generation.

The themes of what we heard have been incorporated into a new approach, which is now available on the MSD website.

MSD is a member of the wider cross-government Joint Venture to develop new ways of working across government, and with iwi and communities, to reduce family violence and sexual violence through an integrated response.

This funding approach is part of, and will remain responsive to, the work of the Joint Venture.

We will continue to keep you updated.

Update for providers of elder abuse services

Community Law Waikato will be running workshops for providers of Elder Abuse Response Services (EARS) across New Zealand over the next couple of months.

The workshops will focus on legal information and will provide a platform for providers to discuss legal issues and seek advice.

The workshops are intended to complement providers’ existing legal networks and offer an opportunity to providers who have limited access to local legal support.

Community Law Waikato has been contacting EARS providers to determine who is interested in attending the workshops and what content would best meet their needs.

EARS legal helpline

As noted in April’s update to providers, Community Law Waikato is running a helpline which provides legal advice and support to EARS providers.

To access this service, please dial the following phone number followed by the extension:

  • 0800 law hub (0800 529 482)
  • Extn: 212 (or 216 if 212 if unavailable)

The helpline is open 9am to 6pm Monday to Thursday and 9am to 4pm Fridays. You can also leave a message on the weekends.

Please note this service is for EARS providers only; the general public and clients are not able to access legal support through this helpline.

Enhancing elder abuse services

Over the last couple of months, we have been consulting with a number of EARS providers to get an understanding of databases and data practices. From August we will be having more in-depth discussions regarding data practices and opportunities for future data use.

As mentioned previously, our team is looking at how we can further enhance elder abuse services. We are currently finalising a current state report about elder abuse in Aotearoa, with a focus on EARS. We will keep you updated on progress.

New Family Violence Act takes effect

The second phase of changes to strengthen family violence laws took effect on 1 July.

The main changes are:

  • modernising the definition of family violence
  • providing principles to guide decision-making
  • improving the visibility of family violence in the justice system: section 16A of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011
  • naming Family Violence Agencies and removing legal barriers to information sharing between agencies
  • extending Police Safety Orders and increasing support for the bound person
  • improving access to Protection Orders, Property Orders and Safety Programmes
  • protecting victims from offenders on remand: sections 168A and 168B, Criminal Procedure Act 2011

Phase 1 took effect in December last year and strengthened criminal law with three new family violence offences: strangulation/suffocation, assault on a person in a family relationship, coerced marriage or civil union.

Other changes in phase one made it easier for victims to give evidence by a video recording made before a court hearing and give priority to victim safety when deciding to grant bail.

A third phase of implementation will embed two longer-term changes.

Find out more about the changes on the Ministry of Justice website

If you have any queries, about sexual violence service development, please contact us at For queries about the family violence work programme, please contact us at

By Ministry of Social Development
10 July 2019