Chapter 11
What change can improve the sexual violence support sector to better assist​
victims to engage with the justice system?

Who should lead change?

11.2A lack of resources and political power mean that non-governmental agencies can only do so much, yet there is currently no ministerial or departmental lead to assume responsibility for the improvements that are required in the field of sexual violence.689 We note the work underway across government and endorse calls for government to adopt a greater leadership role and responsibility in reforming the response to sexual violence victims in New Zealand. We believe that government should assume a leadership role for five reasons:

(a) Government is the principal funder of the sexual violence sector and has a responsibility to ensure that money is being effectively spent and is addressing the support and service needs it is designated to meet.

(b) A targeted strategy to implement key areas of reform in the sexual violence sector is needed, as opposed to an ad hoc reactive response to each problem as it arises.

(c) The extent of cross-organisational coordination and consultation that is required means that government is realistically the only body with the resources to facilitate this.

(d) The work of the Law Commission is part of a wider government-led review of the sexual violence sector690 thus any changes that arise as part of this review could be implemented as part of a package of reform by government.691

(e) The impetus for the change recommended here lies in strengthening the justice responses to sexual violence, and justice falls within the domain of governmental responsibility.

689We note that the Ministerial Group on Family Violence and Sexual Violence was recognised by way of a Cabinet Paper but consider a more formalised and specialised mandate is preferable: Cabinet Paper “Progress on the Work Programme of the Ministerial Group on Family Violence and Sexual Violence” (22 July 2015) SOC (15) 68.
690The Ministry of Social Development is advancing a sexual violence work programme which includes the following priorities that overlap with matters covered in this Report (Cabinet Paper “Progress on the Work Programme of the Ministerial Group on Family Violence and Sexual Violence”, above n 689, at [36]):
  • Develop a long-term (operational) policy framework for responding to sexual violence, to drive the operating model.
  • Develop an approach for service purchasing and planning to support good quality and sustainable services, and improve outcomes and access.
  • Improve sector infrastructure, including data collection systems; protocols with community agencies; good practice standards; and workforce development and training.
691We note work being done across government, including the Ministry of Social Development’s Community Investment Strategy, the justice sector’s Stronger Response to Family Violence programme of work, Policing Excellence: the Future, and the Internal Police Family Violence Change Programme, Whānau Ora, the Children’s Action Plan, the Youth Crime Action Plan, the Whole-of-Government Gang Action Plan, and the Ministry for Women’s focus on ensuring women and girls are free from violence.