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Empowering health clinics to respond to family violence

Empowering primary health clinics to respond to family violence

Leading up to White Ribbon Day (25 November), Shine - a national anti-domestic abuse charity – will be empowering primary health clinics in high risk areas to routinely screen for family violence through clinical supervision and support.

On average, fourteen women are killed by a member of their family every year; these women are often not offered any intervention for the violence. In partnership with the Auckland District Health Board, Shine is supporting primary healthcare organisations (PHOs) to intervene in domestic abuse situations.

Deepika Sarmah, Shine’s PHO Family Violence Intervention Coordinator, says,

“Every year we see horrifying statistics about family violence homicides in New Zealand. What we are trying to do this White Ribbon Day is emphasise that family violence is everyone’s responsibility, and that primary healthcare professionals in particular can have a key role in ending violence towards women.”

Deepika and her Shine colleague Sue Hobbs will be available for a couple of hours every weekday from Tuesday 20th to Thursday 29th November to assist local GPs at Tamaki Health, Avondale Family Centre and Mount Roskill Clinic. Shine has trained the staff in the Tamaki and Avondale clinics to routinely screen adult female patients for domestic abuse.

Research in 2010 from NZ College of General Practitioners identified that women want their GP to ask the question they can find too hard to ask. They found women trust their GP as a confidential person and believe that a primary health clinic is a safe place to get information and seek help about domestic abuse.

“We are very proud to have established a steering group of PHOs who are now able to collaborate with the ADHB hospital-based Family Violence Team to develop family violence policies, protocols and systems. The scope of this work will ensure that in the future all PHO practices will be able to effectively screen for family violence,” says Sue Hobbs.

It has been identified by Te Hononga O Tamaki Me Hoturoa and Auckland PHO that family violence is an issue where significant health gains could be made by improving systems for family violence assessment and intervention.


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