The Prime Minister’s Statement to Parliament included a claim that his Government has placed a special emphasis on the rights of victims. What he failed to state was that this emphasis has been negative and detrimental to the rights of victims.
National has refused to enact the Domestic Violence Bill, which was introduced by Labour during the last term of Government. This bill was the culmination of extensive consultation with organisations and key stakeholders who support victims of domestic violence. Instead, whilst Labour’s comprehensive bill languishes on the Governments Order paper, National has passed their own watered down version. The National Government bill does not give Domestic Violence victims the protection and support they need and deserve.
In the last year the National Government added insult to injury by slashing counselling and support to victims/ survivors of sexual assault. Previously they were able to access counselling support via ACC on the recommendation of their counsellors or therapists. The National Government imposed more stringent measures which included the requirement that victims/ survivors be subject to multiple interviews with different health professionals. Salient to this, the eligibility criteria for funding support was narrowed, depriving the vast majority of those who would have been formerly approved.
This unfortunate experiment continued despite calls from; Counsellors, Psychotherapists, social workers, women’s organisations, victim’s rights spokespeople and victims and survivors themselves. We in Labour were proud to stand alongside these groups to challenge the Government. After a year of hell for many victims/ survivors and their families a damming independent report was released, which forced John Key’s Government to admit that it had let victims/ survivors down. The Government subsequently backed down on the more ruthless aspects of their failed policy, however the cost was immeasurable.
The Government claims to have placed a special emphasis on the rights of victims – this is undeniably the case however this negative assault on victim’s rights was not what victims were expecting and is hardly worth John Key boasting about.