Last year described as 'horror' year for domestic violence in New Zealand

Last year is being described as a horror year for domestic violence with police investigations into family harm increased since the first lockdown, and one non-Government organisation (NGO) is warning the rise shows no sign of slowing down. 

The staff at NGO Shine are preparing to help more victims of domestic violence. 

Shine advocacy team manager Debbs Murray says family violence is "everywhere in this country".

Figures released to Newshub show that since March, when New Zealand was in COVID-19 alert level 4, show the number of family harm investigations carried out by police was up every single month right through to September, compared to the previous year. 

The total number of family harm investigations between March and September in 2020 reached over 97,000, compared to the same period in 2019, which totalled at just more than 84,500.

Murray says family violence is becoming more brutal. 

"Assaults, physical assaults, every violation you can imagine, assault on children, animals, and without getting into too much detail it's a pretty traumatic space to be working in right now." 

Shine spokesperson Holly Carrington agrees, saying it's been a "horror year" for domestic violence. 

COVID-19 has brought with it additional frustrations like lockdowns and unemployment. Shine believes this may have pushed people with a violent history to become more aggressive, and there are fears last year's dangerous trend will continue. 

Our first ever Minister for Prevention of Family Violence Marama Davidson says previous attempts to end domestic violence haven't worked. 

"For at least 30 years we have been trying to address violence in our country and it is very clear that we have failed so far." 

Now the Government's changing tac - with work underway on a nationwide action plan. 

"This needs to be a turn," says Davidson. "And a change of thinking across all of our Government agencies."

After working on the front line, Murray says everyone has a responsibility.

"We need to have some collective ownership of what is going on in our backyards."