'Desperate' need for support for rural victims of domestic violence

There's concern from a rural women's group that proposed changes to family violence laws may stop women from seeking help.

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) said the Family Violence Act 2018 must protect victims' privacy and accessibility to support services.

National president Fiona Gower is worried that sharing and disclosing information between government sectors, such as health and education, may place the privacy of family violence victims at risk.

"Although RWNZ supports the Government's efforts to create an effective preventative response to family violence through information sharing, we do not support a system that puts people at risk and leaves victims feeling vulnerable and unable to seek help because they are afraid of confidentiality breaches," she said.

Fiona Gower said there is a desperate need for more support services for victims of domestic violence in rural areas.
Fiona Gower said there is a desperate need for more support services for victims of domestic violence in rural areas. Photo credit: Supplied

She said for many rural families, there are no "on the ground agencies" to provide services desperately needed and that is a fundamental concern.

"Rural victims of family violence often cannot leave their situations easily and this isolation and lack of support is significant as 39 percent of rural women will experience violence, compared to 33 percent of urban women, as cited in our submission on the Family Violence Legislation Bill in July 2017."

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