The Prime Minister has urged a national summit on family violence to consider new ways to address the problem.
"Sometimes on my worst day I think we service misery."
Bill English says despite a huge amount of effort aimed at the issue, which "warps personalities" and "destroys relationships", it was not always having an impact.
"Sometimes it's not easy to do when we've organised ourselves as if there's neverending misery," he said.
Mr English said the problem was one of "trust" rather than throwing more money at the issue.
"They don't trust us and our good intentions don't matter.
"Why would you tell a Government agency or the police? They don't trust us.
"We can't deal with people with whom we don't have a relationship."
The summit pulled together members from across the family violence sector with the hope that discussion would help influence future policy.
The Prime Minister said while 80 percent of what the Government had been doing around social related services was working, there was still a "big chunk" of services that were failing.
"The system needs that external pressure...there's a whole lot of things we just can't know. And that's why we need that external pressure," he said.
Those using social services were labelled as "customers" - a term Mr English said not everyone agreed with, but he believed was necessary as a means of focusing on delivering satisfactory outcomes.
"We don't want customers but unfortunately we have thousands of them."