Chapter 2: Overview of annotated bibliography

We asked Carswell Consultancy to carry out a literature review of research and evaluation reports from the previous decade on family violence and sexual violence in New Zealand.

2.1 Selected research and evaluation studies 2010–2020

This chapter provides an overview of the annotated bibliography, which includes 136 publications (plus five snapshots/summaries of full reports) from 2010 to early 2020. The publications relate to family violence, child abuse and neglect, and sexual violence in Aotearoa. We were asked to identify key pieces of research and evaluation that inform an understanding of service users’ and service providers’ experiences in the family violence system and identify potential gaps to be addressed in the next phase of the project. The annotated bibliography is organised as a timeline over the last decade and is designed to summarise:

  • the focus and objectives of the research or evaluation study;
  • the methodology and participants, such as service users and providers;
  • who commissioned the study; and
  • key findings and recommendations.

As stated there were limitations to our review and it is not intended as a comprehensive stocktake. There will be other relevant work, some of which has not been published, including unpublished research and evaluation studies commissioned by government agencies.

In this chapter, we summarise the focus areas of the research and evaluation included in the annotated bibliography to give an indication of what has been studied and likely gaps in knowledge. We also overview who commissioned the studies. The remainder of the report examines how these studies may inform our understanding and knowledge about service users’ and providers’ experiences and focus areas for improvements in the family violence system.

Table 2: Number of studies each year from 2009 to 2020  

Year No. of entries Year No. of entries Year No. of entries
2020 3 2016 19 2012 5
2019 20 2015 12 2011 7
2018 12 2014 15 2010 11
2017 17 2013 14 2009 1

Population group focus

Some of the reports focused on the whole population and differentiate populations by gender and ethnicity within the study. Other reports focus on the experiences of specific population groups, such as:

  • women (11 reports) – additionally, reports focusing on victims focus primarily on women;
  • men (six reports, with one being a summary report) – additionally, reports focusing on perpetrators focus primarily on men;
  • children and young people (20 reports), although five of these include other groups, e.g. victims/perpetrators/children, with children as the main focus; and
  • older people (four reports), although one focused on women/elders.

In regard to ethnicity, 13 reports included in the annotated bibliography focus specifically on Māori and eight reports on Pacific Peoples, as well as six reports on other ethnic communities (two of which are on refugee/migrant communities conducted in 2011).

The LGBTQIA+/Rainbow community (two publications, both based on the same research in 2016) and people with disabilities (two publications, one in 2016 that drew from the other’s research in 2013).

Victims/survivors were the focus in 30 publications (including the TOAH-NNEST suite of studies on sexual violence survivors in 2016), and perpetrators were the focus in 12.

Focus on system approaches to address family violence and child abuse

At least 16 publications recommended system approaches to addressing family violence and child abuse, the most recent of which was Carne, S., Rees, D., Paton, N., Fanslow, J. & Campus, T. (2019). There were successive Family Violence Death Review Committee reports, and the Glenn Inquiry in 2014 commissioned comprehensive research (including extensive literature reviews and primary research) about system transformation to address family violence.

Table 3: Aotearoa New Zealand reports with a focus on system approaches to addressing family violence and child abuse

Carne, S., Rees, D., Paton, N., Fanslow, J. & Campus, T. (2019). Using systems thinking to address intimate partner violence and child abuse in New Zealand. Auckland: NZ Family Violence Clearinghouse, University of Auckland. Retrieved from

Lambie, I. & Gerrard, J. (2018). Every 4 minutes – a discussion paper on preventing family violence in New Zealand. Auckland: Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor. Retrieved from

Herbert R & Mackenzie, D. (2018). Continuous Improvement of the Family and Sexual Violence System: A national collaborative backbone agency is the critical component, Backbone Collective;

Rees, D., Boswell, A., & Appleton-Dyer, S. (2017). Framework for change: Reducing children and young people’s experience of violence, Wellington: ACC.

Allen and Clarke (2017a). Rapid synthesis report of family violence research to inform advice about services. Commissioned by Ministry of Justice, Wellington.

Allen and Clarke (2017b). Family violence in New Zealand: Needs, experiences, and system responsiveness. Commissioned by Ministry of Justice, Wellington.

Family Violence Death Review Committee, NZ (2017). Six reasons why we cannot be effective with either intimate partner violence or child abuse and neglect unless we address both together. Wellington. Retrieved from

Family Violence Death Review Committee, NZ (2016). Family Violence Death Review Committee: Fifth Report Data: January 2009 to December 2015. Wellington. Retrieved from

Foote, J., Carswell, S., Wood, D. & Nicholas, G. (2015). Measuring the effectiveness of ‘whole-of-system’ response to prevent family violence. Wellington: Commissioned by the Social Policy Research and Unit (SuPERU). Retrieved from

Herbert, R. L. & Mackenzie, D. (2014). The way forward: an integrated system for intimate partner abuse and child abuse and neglect in New Zealand. Wellington: The Impact Collective. Retrieved from

Suite of reports from The Glenn Inquiry:

Foote, J., Taylor, A., Carswell, S., Nicholas, G., Wood, D., Winstanley, A. & Hepi, M. (2014). Selecting interventions to reduce family violence and child abuse in New Zealand (A report to The Glenn Inquiry). Wellington. Retrieved from

Foote, J., Taylor, A., Nicholas, G., Carswell, S., Wood, D., Winstanley, A. & Hepi, M. (2014). Toward a transformed system to address child abuse and family violence in New Zealand (A report to the Glenn Inquiry). Wellington. Retrieved from

Kahui, S. & Snively, S. (2014). Measuring the Economic Costs of Child Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence to New Zealand 2014 Project commissioned by The Glenn Inquiry. Auckland. Retrieved from

Nicholas, G., Foote, J., Taylor, A., Carswell, S., Wood, D., Winstanley, A., & Hepi, M. (2014). Getting it together: A transformed system to reduce family violence and child abuse and neglect in New Zealand – A summary report to The Glenn Inquiry.

Roguski, M. & Gregory, N. (2014). Former Family Violence Perpetrators’ Narratives of Change. A Report to the Glenn Inquiry. Available at:

Taylor, A., Carswell, S., Haldane, H., & Taylor, M. (2014). Toward a transformed system to address child abuse and family violence in New Zealand Literature Review Part Two-Effectiveness of Interventions(ESR Report No. CSC 14009). The Glenn Inquiry. Wellington, Christchurch. Retrieved from

Taylor, A., Carswell, S., Haldane, H., & Taylor, M. (2014). Toward a transformed system to address child abuse and family violence in New Zealand Literature Review-Part One(ESR Report No. CSC 14009). The Glenn Inquiry. Christchurch. Retrieved from

Wilson, D., & Webber, M. (2014). The people’s blue-print: transforming the way we deal with child abuse and domestic violence in New Zealand. The Glenn Inquiry. Retrieved from

Wilson, D., & Webber, M. (2014). The People’s Report: The People’s Inquiry into Addressing Child Abuse and Domestic Violence. The Glenn Inquiry. Retrieved from

The agencies that commissioned the research and evaluation studies are included in this review

There were limitations and exclusions to what was included in this review as stated above. Consequently, there are limitations to the following ‘report count’ by the commissioning government agency. The Office is interested in getting a sense of which government agencies were commissioning research and evaluation in relation to family violence, sexual violence and child abuse and neglect. Further work would have to be conducted to systematically count publications, identify unpublished studies, and to assess the focus, quality and impact of the report findings.

The Ministry of Social Development has published 29 reports included in our review. Two were published in partnership with other ministries: one in 2017 with the Ministry of Justice and the other in 2011 with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.

We have included two Oranga Tamariki publications that were published since 2018. Some of the Ministry of Social Development reports relate to the work of the former Child, Youth and Family.

Four reports from the joint venture are included, two of which are snapshots of the two main reports.

The Ministry of Justice published 15 publications, 13 since 2017 and two in 2012 that are included in our review. The more recent publications include four that are related to the NZCVS conducted in 2018 and 2019. Additionally, one in 2017 was jointly published with the Ministry of Social Development (the workforce capability framework).

Included in the annotated bibliography are four reports published by Te Puni Kōkiri. Two reports published by the Law Commission, both relating to family violence victims, in 2015/16. Five publications commissioned by the Police, including three evaluations, and one report commissioned by the Department of Corrections – a process evaluation in 2015.

Two publications from the Ministry of Health are included – one was the latest evaluation of their Violence Intervention Programme in 2019 and the other is guidelines on assessment and intervention to inform healthcare responses to family violence in 2016. In addition, the Health Committee presented an inquiry into improving child health outcomes and preventing child abuse to the House of Representatives in 2013.

One report commissioned by the Ministry of Education conducted by the Education Review Office on sexuality education in 2018 is included. Additionally, there were two other reports on schools-based programmes, one by Family Planning on sexuality education in 2019, and the other commissioned by ACC on healthy relationships that was an evaluation of their Mates & Dates programme.

There were several clusters of publications:

  • four reports relating to Integrated System Response commissioned by the joint venture in 2019;
  • the Backbone Collective published four reports based on their research in 2017/18;
  • eight reports were published as part of the TOAH-NNEST suite of research projects incorporated into their Good Practice Responding to Sexual Violence Guidelines for ‘mainstream’ crisis support services for survivors in2016;
  • the Glenn Inquiry suite of nine publications towards a transformed and integrated system to address family violence in 2014; and
  • eight reports relating to the ‘It’s not OK’ campaign – one in 2013, two in 2011, four in 2010 and one in 2009.

Type of study

Twenty-nine (or about one in five) of the 136 publications were evaluation reports. Seven of the evaluations included in the review were published by the Ministry of Social Development with the most recent conducted in 2016, and three of them were in 2010. We have included three evaluations published by NZ Police, and two evaluations from each of the following organisations: the joint venture, Ministry of Justice, Oranga Tamariki, the Alcohol Advisory Council, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner and NGOs. The others were commissioned by Ministry of Health (1), Te Puni Kōkiri (1), Ministry of Education (1), SuPERU (1), ACC (1), Department of Corrections (1) and the Campaign for Action on Family Violence (CAFV) (1). Six of the evaluations listed above were related to the CAFV’s ‘It’s not OK’ campaign, three were commissioned by the Ministry of Social Development, two by the Alcohol Advisory Council and one seemingly was funded by CAFV itself.

There were 27 reports in which primary research was a key element. Of these, four were kaupapa Māori (all published since 2016) and two used Pacific approaches – for example, Talanoa. Twelve reports were based on surveys, and 20 publications either were wholly literature reviews or had a significant proportion of the report dedicated to reviewing literature. Among those 20 was an annotated bibliography.

There were also three official inquiries. A Māori inquiry into Oranga Tamariki by Whānau Ora in 2020, an inquiry into the Ministry of Social Development’s collection of individual-client level data from NGOs by the Privacy Commissioner in 2017 and an inquiry into improving child health outcomes and preventing child abuse in 2013.

2.2 Research and evaluation gaps

Our scan of the literature highlights a lack of national coordination of government-commissioned research. This lack has contributed towards the considerable gaps in knowledge that we identify in the review. The way research and evaluation projects are currently commissioned generally reflects the focus of individual government agencies, rather than the family violence, sexual violence, and child maltreatment sector as a whole. This is another example of the siloed approach. This can lead to duplication of effort, with similar pilots and initiatives being repeated over time. Current staff and ministers may not be aware of previous work.

Affordability of evaluations is often an issue, which makes it difficult for local initiatives to be evaluated. We are aware of relevant evaluations that have been commissioned by government agencies that, for one reason or another, the accompanying reports have not been made publicly available. This limits our access to knowledge about:

  • how pilots, initiatives, programmes and policies are working to benefit families and whānau;
  • good practices at practitioner, service and system levels; and
  • lessons about effective implementation and areas for improvement.

Related to this is the way that knowledge is disseminated. Authors have noted that research findings could be better tailored for different audiences and communicated more effectively.

It is not clear to what extent government agencies consider research and evaluation findings and recommendations, and act on them. There are no transparent mechanisms to ensure that lessons from previous evaluations and research are being considered in the ongoing strategic and operational development of agency work related to family violence/sexual violence and child abuse. Many of the process evaluations and reports we reviewed demonstrate just how difficult it can be to transfer knowledge into practice and for government and non-government services to consistently deliver those practices to families and whānau (for example: Allen and Clarke, 2017a; Carswell, o-Hinerangi, Grey 2014; Carswell, Frost, o-Hinerangi, Betts, 2017a; Carswell, Kaiwai, o-Hinerangi, Lennan & Paulin, 2017b; Family Violence Death Review Committee (2020, 2017, 2016); Herbert & Mackenzie, 2018; New Zealand Police, 2017; Kaiwai et al., 2020;Lambie, & Gerrard, 2018; Office of the Children’s Commissioner NZ, 2017 & 2016; Moyle, 2015; Wilson, et al., 2019)

The research gaps in the annotated bibliography in relation to particular population groups include other ethnicities, the LGBTQIA+/Rainbow community and people with disabilities. Another research gap is women as perpetrators. Only one publication focused on this group, but it was narrowly focused on women who were primary victims who became perpetrators (Law Commission, 2016).

The research gaps identified in our review aligns with gaps noted in other publications in recent years (Allen and Clarke, 2017b; Glenn Inquiry 2014 reports; Paulin, 2013):

There is a lack of detailed information available on the needs of different population groups (e.g., Māori, migrants and refugees, female perpetrators, male victims, Asian people living in New Zealand, disabled people, elderly people, rural populations and low-risk groups); however, the literature does state that there are group-specific attributes, contexts (individual, social, cultural and environmental), and impacts of family violence that must be taken into account (e.g., for Māori, Pasifika, children, disabled people, elderly people, LGBTIQ+, refugees and migrants) to ensure that all needs are addressed appropriately. (Allen & Clarke, 2017)

The main research gaps can be grouped as:

  • lessons about what worked well in previous national-level leadership collaborations and taskforces and what did not, which would provide valuable insights into the current development and implementation of national collaborative governance and operational initiatives;
  • subpopulations, including ethnicity, age (e.g. child abuse and elder abuse), sexual orientation and gender identity (LGBTQIA+);
  • understandings of the family violence system by location (e.g. rural areas) and what additional services and supports may be required;
  • types of family violence defined by type of relationship, particularly women as perpetrators, men as victims (including sexual abuse victims), violence towards parents, sibling violence and the intersection of different types of relational violence;
  • types of vulnerability, e.g. people with disabilities, refugee populations, children and young people;
  • evaluations of programmes, services and initiatives to build the evidence base for Aotearoa New Zealand; and
  • research on effective strategies and education for workforce development and capability building.