23 Aug Victims Summit must capture missing voices
Victims’ needs must be at the heart of any reforms to criminal justice system, says Victim Support Acting Chief Executive Karen McLeay following this week’s justice summit.
Ms McLeay said Victim Support welcomed the opportunity to participate in the summit, which sparked a much-needed debate about fixing our justice system.
For every offender, there is at least one victim, and Victim Support help 35,000 of them every year, not to mention tens of thousands more supported by Police, Women’s Refuges, and other community organisations.
“Further consultation must ensure the voice of victims sits at the heart of this debate,” said Ms McLeay.
“We have a court system that too often leaves victims and whanau traumatised, side-lined, and broken. Reform and resources are needed to ensure reliable support, guidance, and advice for all victims going through the court process.”
“While discussion to date has focussed on serious offending and the prison system, reducing victimisation starts with addressing family violence, youth offending, and early intervention.”
Ms McLeay said there were over 500,000 estimated family violence incidents in New Zealand annually.
“There’s just no tackling victimisation without moving on this.”
She said victim services lacked the funding and sometimes the mandate to provide the depth and breadth of support that victims rightly expect. There was also little help available for male victims, with few family or sexual violence support options available for men.
“The statistics also leave little doubt that traditional approaches to justice aren’t working for Maori and are not keeping Maori communities safe. We look forward to an open and robust exploration of alternative justice and prevention methods that empower Maori to drive positive change.”
“This week’s summit was a valuable opportunity to kick off discussion about the reform process. We look forward to putting forward a strong case for victim-centred reform.”
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