Domestic violence - it affects us all

According to a 2017 report by New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse, one in three women have reported experiencing physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence (IPV) in their lifetime. When psychological/emotional abuse is included, the percentage jumps to 55%. Given these figures, most Kiwis will know someone who has been subjected to this. 

I am fortunate. I have not been subjected to this, but someone I am close to was. Finally, putting the pieces together and finding out what was happening (and had happened) made me feel sick and so powerless to help her; all I could do was be there when she needed me. It didn’t help that we were living in different countries. After years of abuse, the final straw was when her husband tried to strangle her while she slept. She filed a restraining order and took the children away while police served the notice. She has since divorced him but he’s still around because of the children. She is not the person I grew up with and, unsurprisingly, has changed due to this horrible experience.

There was only one person she could tell at work, and her employer wasn’t overly supportive when she finally told them she needed understanding (her work was beginning to be affected) after getting the restraining order.

Thankfully, New Zealand has woken up to the fact that people who experience domestic abuse need some tangible support, hence the Domestic Violence - Victims’ Protection Bill, which has just passed its third reading in Parliament and comes into force on 1 April 2019. This Act will allow someone who has been exposed to domestic violence up to 10 days paid leave each year, separate to any other leave entitlements. This is meaningful and will help.

Earlier this month Australian workers became entitled to apply for up to five days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave a year. Britain has yet to catch up but recently cited New Zealand as progressive for enacting paid leave.

At AA Insurance, we have always been supportive of our people. Over the years in my role I have become aware of individuals who are going through an awful domestic experience and we have been able to help them. Earlier this year we decided to be more overt about this, and couldn’t wait until 2019. No more hiding this insidious and vile behaviour behind closed doors. 

In April, we communicated our Domestic Violence Policy to our people, advising them they could get up to 10 days paid leave each year for legal proceedings, medical appointments and other activities related to domestic violence. We told them we would support them changing their work patterns, location or duties, if it would help. We would also provide paid time off for another staff member to support them - to either go with them to attend court, hospital or mind their children during a turbulent period.

The response from our people when we launched this was incredible and very positive. Domestic violence touches pretty much everyone. We have a responsibility as employers to be there for our people when they often don’t know where to turn or are unable to make changes due their personal circumstances. This is where we can be there and make a difference. 

Nikki Howell

GM People & Capability, AA Insurance

About AA Insurance

AA Insurance is an independently operated, New Zealand-based joint venture between the New Zealand Automobile Association (NZAA) and Vero Insurance New Zealand Limited (VINZL). Since 1994 we have demonstrated trusted expertise in home, contents and car insurance in New Zealand, and in 2018 introduced commercial small business insurance. We underwrite our own policies and sell direct to New Zealanders. Our 930+ staff look after over 480,000 customers with 970,000 policies.

We proudly partner with Variety NZ and Eden Park and have been consistently recognised by: Reader’s Digest Most Trusted Brands (since 2011) and Quality Service Awards for Car, and Home and Contents Insurance (since 2015), Kantar Customer Leadership Index (since 2019), Canstar Blue Most Satisfied Customers (2011-2018), and the Colmar Brunton Corporate Reputation Index (since 2015) that recognises New Zealand’s most successful companies. AA Insurance was also named Consumer NZ People’s Choice award winner for car, home and contents (2019 and 2020).

AA Insurance has an AA- (Very Strong) Insurer Financial Strength Rating given by Standard and Poor’s (Australia) Pty Ltd. For further information visit

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