Judge Boshier links suicides to family break-ups
By Simon Collins
4:00 AM Thursday Nov 19, 2009
A top judge has called for more mental health support for people involved in Family Court cases after finding 18 suspected suicides by people involved in the court in the 13 months to June.
Principal Family Court Judge Peter Boshier, in a speech to be delivered in Blenheim this morning, also proposes a new specialist agency to refer victims and offenders in domestic violence cases to counselling and to chase up offenders who drop out of programmes.
“A radical rethink is required in the delivery of both prevention and intervention in domestic violence,” he said.
He identified 22 people involved in Family Court cases who died between May 2008 and June this year as a result of either suicide or homicide.
“Of these 18 (82 per cent) were suspected suicides, and 41 per cent of the deceased had been, either directly or indirectly, involved in domestic violence proceedings,” he said.
Three-quarters were also involved in court battles over care of children.
He said New Zealand should learn from an Australian system where court staff are trained to identify possible mental health issues during separation and refer people to counselling services.
“I feel for people that use our courts who eventually cannot cope and take their own lives. I am not only sad for them personally, but for the children they leave behind,” he said.
“I accordingly advocate a court which has a much better support facility than is evident at present.”
Judge Boshier repeated criticisms he made in February of programmes for domestic violence offenders. He said then that one-off acts in situations such as a marriage breakup should not be treated the same as “continuous or systematic” violence.
Only half of all offenders completed programmes, and he called for a new specialist agency to refer and monitor offenders and victims on counselling programmes.
“I consider that part of the explanation for this low completion rate is the fact that courts are in the business of hearing cases and making judicial determinations, but are not in the business of providing long-term social oversight of offenders’ rehabilitation,” he said.
“An insightful approach would be to have the courts hear an application and make any relevant orders, but for consideration of the appropriate programme and follow-up to be the preserve of a wholly different agency.”
Domestic violence agencies agreed court workers should be trained to refer people with potential mental health issues to counsellors.
But National Network of Stopping Violence Services manager Brian Gardner, Women’s Refuge chief executive Heather Henare and Jane Drumm of the Auckland domestic violence agency Shine all questioned the judge’s call for a new agency.
“My concern is I don’t believe we need another layer,” Mr Gardner said.
By Simon Collins
It is pleasing that some positive action is being taken, by a judge.
If you don’t take responsibility, then you are not likely to properly address the problems.
Generally, men are not accepting their responsibility, to care for their brothers, who work their way through separation and especially have to deal with “judges” in familycaught.
I have tried to show a link between breaches of natural justice in familycaught and parental suicide. I have taken ideas from Dr. Viv Roberts and tried to detail the history and the statistics, to show that much of the breaches of natural justice are due to malpractice by “judges”. If I am right (still an open question), then culpability may be laid at these “judges” feet ie manslaughter charges?
If you are interested to understand this case, I can EMAIL to you the DV submission that I submitted to Justice Department, about 2 years ago.
If “judges” don’t take responsibility for their actions, then they are not likely to properly address their problems.
I respectfully suggest that rather than support people after their relative has committed suicide, why don’t we address the problems in familycaught, in “hearing” evidence competently and getting decisions right in the first place!!!????