“We have really had no impact, despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars on programmes, on the incidence of domestic violence in New Zealand…. Really no impact at all.” So declared Finance Minister the Hon Bill English last week (Stuff). It was an honest assessment. But it’s certainly not OK.
It is not just the scandalous waste of taxpayers money that is not OK. More important is the tragic waste of human life and ongoing suffering of thousands of New Zealanders, especially women and children.
This is not a problem that is insoluble. Something can be done. But only if our leaders face the truth about what has driven the increase in family violence in our nation over the last 30 years. It is not poverty. It is not a need for more education. It is not a need for awareness programmes such as the ridiculous “it’s not OK” campaign – as if anyone ever really thought it was.
The prime driver of family violence has been the normalisation and even promotion of a culture of relationship churn. Casual relationships, multiple partners, mum’s latest boyfriend – this is the relationship culture that drives violence, abuse and neglect. The jury is not out on this. It came back a long time ago with a clear verdict based on plenty of social science evidence (refer Green Paper on Vulnerable Children submission).
Human beings were not created for relationship churn. It produces insecurity, jealousy. mistrust, hurt, anger, and often violence. Human beings were created for loving, faithful commitment. The gold standard is marriage. The government could save hundreds of millions by actively affirming it rather than continually undermining it. More importantly it could start building a brighter future for hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders by investing in a “programme” that actually works.