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Screening for Family Violence

Notes from National Training Seminar in Taupo 2010


Screening for family violence


As I write this I note that in two days time it is “White Ribbon Day” (November 25th) – an international day when people wear a white ribbon to show that they do not condone violence towards women. At our recent national training Seminar in Taupo November 2010 we had a very interesting and informative seminar lead by Gloria Eaves and Debbie Rakei on the important issues relating to screening for family violence.
The statistics for the last year make for very sombre reading - 91,000 family violence incidents reported to Police, Police attended a family violence incident every seven minutes, children were present at 50% of incidents, 82,646 risk assessments were made by Police at family violence incidents, 43 people were killed in family violence related homicides. Even more sobering is that Police estimate that only 18% of family violence incidents are reported.
So how do we respond to the family violence that is happening in our communities as an agency and what key messages did I take from this seminar?
Firstly, we have to recognise that it does happen across a broad spectrum of the community – it is not confined to lower socio-economic groups. We have to ask the questions and respond appropriately to what we see and are told – “Are you safe at the moment?”, “Do you feel safe to go home now?”, “Do you have a safety plan?”  We need to reinforce that it is not the victims fault, that violence and abuse is never justified, and that help is available from the Police and organisations such as Women’s Refuge.
One of the things that really impacted on me was being told that it may take messages from with several different people or agencies over a period of time before a victim finally leaves an unsafe situation, so every reinforcement “that it is not okay” and that there is help available is important as you don’t know which one will finally give the victim the impetus to be able to make their situation safer. 
More information can be found at:
Chris Ottley
Dunedin Branch Coordinator

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