9.17As noted in Chapter 6, several Australian law reform bodies have also recommended non-doctrinal legal reforms, such as professional legal and judicial education, and a family violence bench book to provide guidance to the judiciary. Such lateral reforms are intended to precipitate cultural change within the legal system.
9.18Given the extent of the problem of family violence in New Zealand, our preliminary view is that there is room to improve the understanding of the judiciary and legal profession of the social context, nature and dynamics of family violence.
9.19However, we are also conscious that, given the low number of homicides committed by victims of family violence in New Zealand, any education or training would have to be carefully constructed so that it is relevant and effective.
There may be a need to dispel myths around violence within families, such as why women stay, barriers to leaving, the cycle of violence, the negative effects of both witnessing and experiencing violence, the trauma caused by non-physical violence, and negative outcomes of violence.
Such education may help people understand the real truths to violence within families and may also help to strengthen attitudes that support victim safety, perpetrator accountability and personal relevance to take action.
Responses also highlight the possible need for education about safety for women leaving abusive relationships. While it is important that family, friends and communities support women to leave abusive relationships, safety at the time of separation is not assured.
Educating New Zealanders about supporting victims to leave and making sure victims are safe is essential. Education on why women stay in violent relationships, and barriers to leaving, may help people understand the dynamics of living with violence and the level of support victims need before and during the leaving process.
Such education may also help to strengthen attitudes that support victim safety, perpetrator accountability and personal relevance to take action.
Questions for consultation
Q20 Would you support further education or training on the dynamics of family violence for those operating within the criminal justice system, including lawyers, judges, police and jurors?