No evidence family violence getting better - Government

The Government has told Newshub there's no evidence our shameful family violence record is improving. It follows a renewed push on medical professionals to identify signs of harm and abuse.

Here's Newshub's part two of our Because it Matters series on family violence.

The frontline fight against family violence takes many forms. For doctors and nurses it begins in the classroom.

Nikki Burgess is a Violence Intervention Programme, or 'VIP' trainer. At Waitemata DHB, her job is to teach hospital staff, to spot signs of family violence. This includes physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.

"We tell them to think about particularly with children, how an injury presents," she says.

"We tell them to think about what's happening with people and their social setting."

You don't have to think too far back to remember the faces of Nia Glassie, the Kahui Twins and Baby Moko. But they're just a few of the ones we know about. It's estimated that almost 15,000 children were abused or neglected in 2017.

Jan Logie is the Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Justice Minister (Domestic and Sexual Violence Issues). She is leading the Government's charge to curb family violence.

She says medical professionals receive more disclosures than police, from families. But until now doctors haven't been equipped to deal with that.

"A lot of our health practitioners aren't resourced to know how to respond appropriately so people don't get the help that they need," she says.

"Why would we wait until things get so bad that the police are called?"

Some things are changing. The Government's introduced:

  • New family violence definitions
  • New offences for assaulting family members
  • The new offence of strangulation because it often precedes murder within a relationship

But eradicating our national shame will take time. Those on the frontline Newshub has spoken to as part of these family violence stories all say that one law change or one ad campaign won't make a difference by themselves. They say New Zealand needs a complete cultural shift, if we want to get any better.

It's something doctors like Kay Lynn Wong know, needs to happen.

"I think the whole society needs to take responsibility and try and address it at an individual level," she says.

Because experts say doing nothing is no longer an option.

"There are a huge number of people who are just living in unbearable pain," Logie says.

A pain it's hoped our frontline nurses and doctors can help ease.

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