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Funding For Implementing Family Violence Guideline

2 November 2000

Funding For Implementing Family Violence Guidelines - Annette King

Health Minister Annette King says she is delighted the Cabinet has allocated $2.8 million in new funding to develop and implement guidelines to reduce child abuse and family violence.

Mrs King argued for the funding some weeks ago, and it has now been approved as part of the Government's response to a report, produced by former police commissioner Peter Doone, on combating and preventing Maori crime.

Mrs King said: "We are demystifying the issue of child abuse and family violence by getting it out in the open and by giving health practitioners the tools they need to deal with this problem and stop the rising tide.

"Educating and supporting health professionals is more appropriate than requiring mandatory reporting. It is essential health professionals feel confident that they can identify abuse, and know where to turn to for assistance."

Mrs King said the funding would be used in three main areas, protocol development, training development programmes and the delivery of training programmes and public health campaigns.

"There have been several cases recently reported in the media highlighting the inadequacies in the current system for identifying and following up on suspected child abuse. Health professionals can make a key contribution in reducing family violence and abuse through prevention strategies and improved identification of and response to those experiencing family violence.

"Many health professionals do not have the protocols or training to deal adequately with these issues, and have been reluctant to refer suspected cases for fear they may be breaching patient confidentiality or privacy and because of ethical concerns. The Ministry of Health and Child Youth and Family have been working with the College of GPs to develop procedures for general practices and these are expected to be ready for implementation this year."

Mrs King said this initiative would bring the area of child abuse into the wider context of family and whanau violence so neither perpetrators and sufferers "felt as embarrassed to discuss their situation with a health practitioner. If we give practitioners a better understanding of the clinical picture of abuse it will give them confidence asking questions without alienating or embarrassing patients.

"GPs and health professionals ask about and deal with personal and private issues on a daily basis. Some are more private than violence, and most people are pleased to have the opportunity to talk. Family violence is an issue that needs to be talked about, so that it is no longer a taboo subject, and sufferers don't continue to feel powerless.

"To achieve this doctors and other health professionals need to be prepared so they can help their patients. They need to be educated and supported through robust structures and programmes so they are not afraid or uneasy asking questions, and so they know what to do should violence and abuse be disclosed or suspected.

"We might expect notifications of suspected abuse to increase as doctors become more confidence at detecting suspected family violence, but inappropriate notifications should decrease. It should also help identify children who are not abused but need support from Well Child providers and community service agencies."


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