New Zealand continues to have relatively high rates of domestic violence compared with other OECD countries despite having comprehensive legislation aimed at protecting women, men and children from violence in the home. For instance, in 2007/2008 family violence accounted for approximately 39% of homicides, 42% of kidnappings and abductions, 44% of grievous assaults and 64% of serious assaults. These shocking results may reflect an increase in violence from previous years, but could also reflect more public reporting of violence as a result of the domestic violence awareness campaign, “It’s Not O.K”. Regardless, the figures are alarming and prompted an investigation into the effectiveness of current domestic violence legislation. Although the current legislation was not actually found to be defective, it required strengthening in order to better protect victims of domestic violence. The result is the Domestic Violence Reform Bill 2008, which was introduced to Parliament on 30 September 2008. To summarise, the key areas of reform include: • enhancing the ability of police to take more immediate action to protect victims of domestic violence. This is particularly the case during callouts to incidents in the home. The introduction of the ‘safety order’ will allow police to remove the alleged violent party from the home for a period up to 72 hours, allowing time for the victim to take any steps necessary to ensure their safety, such as applying for a protection order. Furthermore, where police suspect that someone has committed a breach of a protection order, they will have the ability to arrest them without having to obtain a warrant. • amending the manner in which applications for temporary protection orders are dealt with. Specifically, the Court will be required to give prompt written reasons if it decides to decline a without-notice application for a temporary protection order. This will allow an applicant who perhaps fears repercussions, to discontinue the application before it is served on, and therefore comes to the notice of, the other party. • the provision of better information and programmes for both victims and perpetrators of domestic violence. It is proposed that every person under a protection order, including children, receive an offer from the Court to attend an information session about how to make use of the protection order and what other programmes and assistance are available to them. It is also proposed that the range of programmes be extended. There appears to be no provision in the Bill for the availability of programmes for victims or perpetrators before matters escalate to the point where the making of a protection order is necessary. • amending the Sentencing Act 2002, by requiring the Court sentencing a person convicted of domestic violence, to consider making a protection order on behalf of the victim. The Court must be satisfied that an order is ‘necessary’ – as is currently the case under the Domestic Violence Act 1995. The victim must also consent to the making of a protection order. • amending the Care of Children Act 2004 to better protect children from all forms of violence, by ensuring the definition of violence is the same in both the Domestic Violence Act and the Care of Children Act. The Bill is currently awaiting its first reading.