Every four minutes: family violence in New Zealand – Expert Reaction

A new report from the Justice sector’s chief science advisor outlines the scale of family violence in New Zealand.

Released through the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Dr Ian Lambie’s report is the third in a series examining New Zealand’s justice system.

The SMC asked experts to comment on the reports.

Associate Professor Janet Fanslow, School of Population Health, University of Auckland, comments:

“The report Every Four Minutes is an accurate, on-point summary of the last 30 years of scholarship on family violence. It clearly reinforces urgent calls for building a prevention workforce, as well as the need to adequately resource trauma-informed responses, and the whole-of-society engagement that is required. I hope the call to action is taken seriously this time. Family violence is a preventable problem.

No conflict of interest.

Dr Melanie Woodfield, Clinical Psychologist, Health Research Council Foxley Fellow 2018-19, comments:

“Associate Professor Ian Lambie’s most recent report is a stirring call to action. A collective challenge to shed stereotypes and imagine a future non-violent New Zealand. And a call that cannot be easily set aside, dismissed as relating to ‘them’ not ‘us’. While at times an uncomfortable read, which apparently unapologetically confronts our deeply held ideas and consistently emphasises our collective role, it is an important and provocative invitation to act.

“As a researcher and Clinical Psychologist with a particular interest in parenting programmes for families where children have conduct problems or challenging behaviour, I applaud the consistent theme of support for children, parents and parenting. Effective, early, and culturally appropriate parenting programmes indeed have the potential to disrupt the intergenerational cycle of family violence.

“The report helpfully highlights the barriers to implementing evidence-based programmes in New Zealand. It is also made clear that being able to make use of specific parenting skills assumes that a parent is supported, cared for, and cared about – and Associate Professor Lambie’s suggestion is that every member of our society has a role in this. That, while accessible evidence-based programmes in communities, clinics, schools and marae are essential, their effects will be optimised in a community that cares.”

Conflict of interest statement: I collaborate with Dr Lambie on a research project into the effectiveness and acceptability of a parenting programme. I work as a Clinical Psychologist in public Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.