Victim engagement in New Zealand: Enabling the victim community to effectively engage with government

Ms Rebecca Bray1

1Ministry of Justice, Wellington, New Zealand

In 2018, New Zealand’s Government announced a commitment to reform its criminal justice system and launched a public conversation on how New Zealanders want to see the criminal justice system transformed.

This included a commitment to ensuring that the needs of victims/survivors are at the heart of any reform of the criminal justice system.

The Minister invited the Chief Victims Advisor (CVA) to host a workshop titled Strengthening the Criminal Justice System for Victims. To inform this workshop, the CVA launched an online survey to gather the views and experiences of victims. The initial findings of this survey were presented at the workshop and will inform recommendations to the Minister of Justice. Key themes that emerged from the survey included:

  • that safety needs to be a key priority,

that the criminal justice system, as a system, and through its workforce, can do more to engage with and support victims and

  • challenging the ideology that the criminal justice system is based on,

The theme of our discussion will be how government can effectively engage with community to inform high-level decision making. Specifically, this discussion will explore the way the online survey allowed the CVA and her team to directly engage with hard to reach parts of the wider victim community to produce a report that fairly represented the types of stories that were heard from respondents, and how we will use these findings to support key recommendations being made to the Minister of Justice.


Becky Bray is an advisor at the Ministry of Justice in New Zealand, currently seconded to the Office of the Chief Victims Advisor, which is hosted by the Ministry. Within the Office, Becky supports the Chief Victims Advisor (CVA), an independent advisor to Government, appointed directly by the Minister of Justice. As one of only two permanent officials, Becky provides a range of research, contract management and advisory support to the CVA.

Becky has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and History. She worked as a Court Registry Officer at the Court of Appeal before beginning her advisory career within the Ministry of Justice.

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