COVID-19’S HARM CAUSED TO THE FAMILY UNIT
Tensions are high and uncertainty is a given during these unprecedented times in New Zealand’s history.
Covid-19 has caused the Government to initiate it's lockdown and eradication measures. Families have been forced into a period of ‘quality time’ with each other, always staying local.
For some families, living in close confines with each other poses no problem. On the other hand, in some families, things will be more difficult. Tension will be harder to de-escalate and perpetrators may resort to violence.
Violence exists in multiple forms – psychological, physical, sexual, economic and emotional abuse. It is predicted that the prevalence of family violence during this lock down will increase. New Zealand already has shameful statistics of family violence. It’s likely to get worse, primarily because there is an increased opportunity for perpetrators to cause harm to another.
The Ministry of Justice, Chief Victims Advisor Dr Kim McGregor has emphasised that support remains available for victims during isolation in saying "My message for all New Zealanders: You are not alone. It’s not ok for anyone to hurt you. Violence is still a crime. … Even though we are currently in self-isolation, we still want to hear from you if you, or someone in your bubble, is being hurt."
Dr McGregor also sought to reassure those suffering from family harm that
"Leaving your home to get yourself and/or others to safety is considered an essential form of travel and you will not be in breach of the alert level restrictions if you leave your neighbourhood for these reasons."
The Government has provided $27 million to social services such as the Women’s Refuge and the Salvation Army to ensure help can continue to be provided to vulnerable people. The purpose of this provision is to allow the organisations to keep housing people, feeding people and sheltering others from family violence as stated by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush (as he then was) has commented during press conferences and Covid 19 updates about this issue. He has urged perpetrators, typically men, to contact the HEYBRO helpline when things start to get tough. HEYBRO He Waka Tapu was setup for men who feel they are going to harm a love one or whanau member.
Instead of resorting to violence, individuals can call the number (0800 HeyBro (439 276)) to get free support 24/7 from people willing to listen and help.
Shine, a group aimed at reducing the amount of family violence in Kiwi homes, expects an influx in family violence harm and suggests it will be similar to that seen during the Christmas period when families are cooped up together for extended periods of time.
Shine’s services are continuing during the lockdown period and can be contacted seven days a week from 9am to 11pm (0508-744-633).
The Government urges those feeling victimised by family violence to seek help straight away. The Police, social services and support organisations are available to help. Lawyers are too.
We at K3 Legal are able to assist with the preparation of protection orders under the Family Violence Act 2018 or orders under the Care of Child Act 2004. The Family Courts are still operational, with family violence and child care and safety issues being considered urgent priority proceedings.
Those causing the violence can be removed from the bubble of the victim/s and placed with other family members or at hotels, set aside by the police, for individuals subject to a police safety order. Therefore, there is no reason for any victim to continue to endure violence at the hand of another, simply because of this lockdown, or lack of alternative accommodation and support.
The Family Team here at K3 can help prepare, draft and file urgent, without notice applications for protection orders. There are new rules for filing in place to make this easier for both us as your lawyers, and you as a client, to ensure that this process is simple, efficient and as least stress as possible.
Where to find help and support:
Shine (domestic violence) - 0508 744 633
Women's Refuge - 0800 733 843 (0800 REFUGE)
Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737
What's Up - 0800 WHATS UP (0800 942 8787)
Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
Youthline - 0800 376 633, text 234, email firstname.lastname@example.org or online chat
Samaritans - 0800 726 666
Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757
Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
For more information, contact Toni Brown, Director and Family Law Specialist at K3 Legal.
021 682 348