Following a review of family violence deaths, the Family Violence Death Review Committee (FVDRC) is recommending developing a multi-agency case management process for high-risk cases of family violence.
It also recommends placing a bigger focus on the safety and wellbeing of surviving family members following a family violence death.
The FVDRC analysed deaths that occurred in family violence incidents in New Zealand during 2009 and 2010, and conducted in-depth, qualitative reviews on nine deaths that occurred during 2010 and 2011.
The FVDRC is an independent committee that advises the Health Quality & Safety Commission on how to reduce the number of family violence deaths.
The FVDRC Chair, Associate Professor of Law Julia Tolmie, says the recommendations focus on better inter-agency collaboration and information sharing, strengthening stopping violence programmes, and better care for victims after a family violence homicide.
Specifically the FVDRC is recommending:
Some of these recommendations are already being acted upon.
Associate Professor Tolmie, says the deaths reviewed by the Committee are all preventable.
"This is why the work carried out by the FVDRC is so important – by learning about the patterns of behaviour associated with family violence deaths, we can recommend ways these tragic events might be prevented."
She says the deaths reviewed by the Committee represent only a small part of the damage and costs to society from family violence.
"For example, we know New Zealand Police attended over 94,000 family violence incidents in New Zealand in 2011, and yet it has been estimated that only 18-20 percent of all family violence incidents are reported to the police.
"As the visible tip of the iceberg, family violence deaths are not only a measure of lethality but also an important barometer of the incidence of family violence."
Of the 72 family violence deaths considered by the FVDRC, 20 were associated with child abuse and neglect, 35 were intimate partner homicides and 17 involved other family members.
The findings from the death reviews show a family violence death does not signal an end to the negative impact of that abuse for the survivors. A family violence death provides an opportunity to support and protect the next generation.
Associate Professor Tolmie says it is important to remember that addressing family violence is a community issue, and not only for individual front-line staff called upon to respond to cases.
"Family violence is a very important issue for government and society generally."
The members of the FVDRC are family violence experts from a range of disciplines and industry sectors, who contribute a wide array of skills, background experiences and perspectives.
The Family Violence Death Review Committee Third Annual Report: December 2011 to December 2012 is available by clicking the link below.