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A safe place to disclose family violence

A safe place to disclose family violence

Rick Barker Launches the Family Violence Intervention Programme for the East Coast.

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Good morning everyone. Welcome to the launch of the Family Violence Intervention Programme on the East Coast.

Welcome to Lindsay Scott, East Coast Regional Commissioner Social Development; to staff from Work and Income and Family and Community Services; and to all the government and non-government family violence prevention agencies here today.

The East Coast Family Violence Intervention Programme is a very collaborative programme that draws on the knowledge and expertise of non-government organisations in our communities. I extend my personal thanks to everyone involved in the programme's development, from the project group and advisory group members to the Work and Income and NGO trainers, service providers, and case managers at the front line.

This is a timely and needed programme. According to the latest figures, police in the East Coast region are called to 3,250 incidents of domestic violence a year. Behind that number are thousands of families, thousands of children, living with the pain and fear of family violence. For some it may erupt at random; for others it will be a daily terror.

We have other numbers. We know that in the year ended March 2005, 355 protection orders were issued against violent partners and ex partners on the East Coast. Per one hundred thousand of population, that figure is the third highest in New Zealand.

Family violence happens behind closed doors. Its hidden nature makes it particularly difficult to identify and address - until the call comes to emergency services.

Identify and address it we must. The task isn't easy, but the commitment is strong. The Ministry of Social Development's Family Violence Intervention Programme that will be delivered through Work and Income is one example of our shared commitment to ending family violence in New Zealand's homes.

This morning, I'll outline how the Family Violence Intervention Programme will run here on the East Coast, and put it in the context of the Government's wider work to stop family violence - work that, in almost every stream, depends on close collaboration with groups working at the grassroots of our communities.

Te Rito

In March 2002 the Government launched the Te Rito Family Violence Prevention Strategy, a vehicle for the government and non-government sectors to work together to eliminate family violence. Three years later, we've made good progress.

We've established Family and Community Services within the Ministry of Social Development, giving strong leadership and co-ordination of government and community services to families.

We've got the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse website, a central access point for the latest information on effective family violence prevention. My colleague Steve Maharey announced the go-live day for the website earlier this month, at the launch of the Auckland Family Violence Intervention Programme. The website has links to current initiatives and events, funding and training opportunities, and research and evaluation news. Material will be progressively added to the website and content regularly updated, and I urge you to use this valuable resource at www.nzfvc.org.nz.

In other work under Te Rito, we've committed funding towards improved effectiveness and coverage of Elder Abuse Neglect and Prevention Services. We're building awareness and changing attitudes towards violence in Pacific families through Te Rito's Strong Pacific Families, where we work directly with communities, community leaders, and families.

We're gathering information on the funding of family violence services and simplifying approval and audit processes for service providers through the Family Violence Funding Circuit Breaker.

We're intensifying our support for children who witness family violence, with funding approved in this year's Budget to provide 45 fulltime equivalent child advocates. This will include a support structure for the advocates, training other providers about children's needs in family violence situations, and more resources for therapeutic and education services for child witnesses of violence. The delivery of the services and programmes, including the child advocacy positions, will be located within the NGO sector.

Following last year's release of Opportunity for All New Zealanders, which identified family violence as a priority issue for Government, we've established a Family Violence Ministerial Team and an Interagency Taskforce for Action on Violence within Families, both providing leadership at the highest levels of government.

Now, the Family Violence Intervention Programme is providing a safe and structured process for people to disclose family violence to their Work and Income case manager, and to get referrals to the support they need.

FVIP programme

Case managers have been trained by service providers to identify signs of possible family violence, and to ask screening questions that will enable the client to disclose violence if they wish. The screening process builds on the work undertaken by the Ministry of Health and Plunket under Te Rito.

The case manager will ensure that the client is getting their full entitlement and refer them to an approved family violence service provider. With the client's consent, this information will be recorded. The approved providers are held on the Family and Community Services online National Directory of family service providers, updated with data provided by the Ministry of Justice and Child Youth and Family, and building on information gathered by the Family Violence Funding Circuit Breaker regional teams. It's great to see that we can draw the different strands of Te Rito's work together for programmes like this one.

Family Violence Response Co-ordinators have been appointed to give support and advice to case managers on family violence issues, and to develop and maintain close working relationships with local service providers and other agencies working in the family violence area.

If a client discloses family violence, their case manager will also offer them this pocket-sized wallet, containing four fold-out booklets: The Women's Refuge Safety Plan, a booklet on how violence at home affects your children, Steps to Keep Your Children Safe from Child Abuse Prevention Services, and Changing Attitudes, Changing Lives from the Canterbury Abuse Intervention Project, with family violence contacts for the East Coast included.

Other projects on the East Coast

A main theme of this Government's work with communities is that we need to build on what is already there, and make sure that new initiatives fit with what's already happening. The 2003/04 Te Rito Community Collaborative Initiative Fund provided a total of $237,500 towards two projects that will run until the end of June 2006, and aim to strengthen community efforts to eliminate family violence in Gisborne and Hawkes Bay.

The Hawkes Bay Intervention Network's project aims to strengthen and grow collaboration among agencies, particularly Maori provider agencies, through a series of community hui. The Taraiwhiti Abuse Intervention Network's project aims to develop a community-wide family violence strategy in Gisborne, to improve local research about family violence, to raise awareness of family violence and to make sure the network's activities align with Te Rito.

Both networks have a very wide membership of government and community organisations, and it's great to see such strong partnerships at work in our region.

Alignment with Family Safety Teams

To make real progress on the issue of family violence, we can't pay lip service to collaboration. We have to ensure that agencies really work together - that they share information, co-ordinate programmes, and contribute to each others' initiatives.

Just a few weeks ago, my colleague Phil Goff launched the Family Safety Teams pilot in Wellington. The pilot's being run through Police, Justice, and Child, Youth and Family, and involves many of the community organisations - like Women's Refuge and Child Abuse Prevention Services - who are also involved in the Family Violence Intervention Programme.

The Family Violence Intervention Programme and the Family Safety Teams pilot have very strong links with each other - links that go well beyond statements about shared aims and objectives. At both a governance and a training level, the agencies involved in both initiatives are working closely together.

People from Family and Community Services in the Ministry of Social Development are delivering training to people taking part in the Family Safety Teams pilot - and people from Police and Child, Youth, and Family are contributing to training for the Family Violence Intervention Project. A staff member from Family and Community Services sits on the Family Safety Teams Steering Group, while the Police's Family Safety Team Project Manager sits on the Family and Community Services reference group for the Child Witnesses to Family Violence programme.

What we're seeing are links between agencies that are built in to the very structure of these programmes, to minimise the risk of vulnerable people falling through the cracks.

Conclusion

I want to close today by thanking East Coast Work and Income for putting your hand up and being one of the first regions to launch the Family Violence Intervention Programme. The Auckland programme was launched earlier this month, Canterbury will be launched in the next couple of weeks, and by July 2007 the programme will be operating in all the remaining 8 Work and Income regions.

Thank you for inviting me today, and best wishes for the operation of the Family Violence Intervention Programme here on the East Coast.

ENDS

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