Every 4 minutes - A discussion paper on preventing family violence in New Zealand

Every 4 minutes: A discussion paper on preventing …
06 Nov 2018

This is the first major report to be released from my Office since I took over in July. It provides some continuity from Sir Peter Gluckman’s tenure, in that it is the third in a series exploring factors that have led Aotearoa, New Zealand to have a high incarceration rate. Like the first two, the primary author is the Chief Science Advisor to the Justice Sector, Dr Ian Lambie. You can read about Ian’s background and the lens he brings to his work, below.
The previous two reports are available on our website. Using evidence to build a better justice system: The challenge of rising prison costs argued that the evidence pointed to a need for radical change of the way we view and manage the justice system, towards a restorative approach. It’s never too early, never too late: A discussion paper on preventing youth offending in New Zealand highlighted the systemic failure to consider and act on the evidence synthesised in previous reports to reduce youth offending. This third report is arguably the most contentious and delves into the role of family violence as a precursor to offending and as a community – not an individual – problem.
As with all scientific endeavours, Ian has examined the evidence through particular lenses, as a trauma-informed psychologist in the child, youth and justice sectors, and others will have different interpretations. The report is not intended to present a definitive opinion, but rather to start conversations and encourage more discussion in the public arena. We hope that it will stimulate more research from different groups with different perspectives and world views, especially from Māori and Pasifica researchers. As Ian asks us to consider, how do we stop getting in the way of Māori and Pasifica flourishing, and reverse the trauma of colonisation and disadvantage? New data will raise more questions, and suggest new answers. Different researchers and different communities will interpret the data in different ways. But all will agree that as a country we need to improve – a call-out for family violence every 4 minutes in Aotearoa, New Zealand is a shocking statistic through any lens and Ian’s report brings this into sharp focus.
The report is endorsed by my Office on behalf of the Forum of Chief Science Advisors.
Professor Juliet Gerrard FRSNZ


This is a discussion paper on what New Zealand can do to prevent family violence. It takes the position that family violence is a solvable problem. Family violence can be seen as largely a “symptom” of underlying social and psychological issues, that are indeed multiple and complex, but are associated with many of the drivers of other social concerns. In the end, there is a lot to be gained for New Zealand by the unleashing of the social and economic wellbeing of children, families, communities, businesses, and services that would follow the reduction or elimination of emotional, physical, sexual, and psychological violence that tangle and restrain our homes and our relationships.

Page last modified: 19 Dec 2018