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Health Practitioners Must Respond Better

From Hon Roger McClay
Commissioner for Children

"Health practitioners need to respond in a better way to the child victims of Family Violence"

The Primary Care Survey research launched today by his office reports that General Practitioners and Plunket Nurses have significant difficulties in recognising and reporting indicators of Family Violence.

This research echoes many of the findings in the James Whakaruru report, which emphasises the important role the health sector has in protecting children.

General Practitioners and Plunket Nurses were surveyed on responses to Family Violence. The research confirms that practitioners do not always ask patients or families about possible violence at home even when there is reasonable suspicion. Respondents feared that asking questions about family violence would result in patients leaving their practice or becoming alienated.

Doctors and Plunket Nurses said that they often do not have time to provide any real follow up or support. Some practitioners admitted they did not know how to ask patients about historic or current violence while others felt uncomfortable with the notion of Family Violence.

Those surveyed wanted more training, guidelines and information on Family Violence and greater levels of interagency support and coordination. Plunket Nurses reported that funding constraints prevented them from following up on children and families they are concerned about. Half of the GPS surveyed said that they supported mandatory reporting of child victims of abuse or family violence.

Mr McClay said that he hoped that the release of both these important reports would lead to better care and protection outcomes for the New Zealand children who for too long had been the silent and unnoticed victims of adult violence.

Office of the Commissioner for Children PO Box 12 537 Thorndon WELLINGTON

phone: 4711 410 phone fax: 4711 418 fax

email: children@occ.org.nz email

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