Fam­ily vi­o­lence re­fer­rals rises

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By HARRY PEARL

The num­ber of sus­pected child abuse cases re­ported to Child, Youth and Fam­ily in Waikato, in­clud­ing Mata­mata, rose 9 per cent be­tween 2011 and 2012 – but of­fi­cials have at­trib­uted the rise to more peo­ple speak­ing out, rather than a rise in abuse.

New statis­tics show there was 17,196 fam­ily vi­o­lence re­fer­rals to the agency in Waikato last year, a rise of 1471 from 2011.

But of those cases, 5414 re­quired fur­ther ac­tion – a 22 per cent jump.

Unique no­ti­fi­ca­tions in Waikato also rose by 437 – out­pac­ing any other area in the coun­try be­tween 2011 and 2012.

CYF Waikato op­er­a­tions man­ager, Sue Critch­ley, at­trib­uted part of the rise to mem­bers of the com­mu­nity be­com­ing in­creas­ingly aware that it was ‘‘OK to speak out’’.

‘‘I think there is far more aware­ness ... peo­ple are more con­fi­dent to ring us.’’

In­creased com­mu­nity in­volve­ment by CYFs through lo­cal ser­vice providers was also con­sid­ered a driver for the rise in no­ti­fi­ca­tions.

Re­fer­rals from po­lice make up the bulk of re­port­ing, but schools and com­mu­nity ser­vice agen­cies also played a part, Ms Critch­ley said. ‘‘ I think there is a gen­uine aware­ness across the Waikato about seek­ing ad­vice,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s not nec­es­sar­ily about re­port­ing a child abuse con­cern, but a worry peo­ple have about their chil­dren or their neigh­bours’ chil­dren.’’

The fig­ures were tem­pered slightly by the fact that con­firmed abuse cases in the re­gion dropped, buck­ing the over­all national trend of a 7 per cent rise.

‘‘While there may be an in­crease in re­ports of con- cern and fur­ther ac­tion re­quired, you’ll see our sub­stan­ti­a­tion is not as high be­cause we’re get­ting the right ser­vices in place for fam­i­lies be­fore it goes wrong,’’ she said.

Na­tion­ally, there were 152,800 no­ti­fi­ca­tions in the year end­ing De­cem­ber 2012, up 2053 on 2011.

Al­though an in­crease, the fig­ures show no­ti­fi­ca­tion num­bers have stead­ied, af­ter the sub­stan­tial jump be­tween 2010 and 2011 – which was at­trib­uted to a large in­crease in re­fer­rals from po­lice. In Septem­ber 2010, Hamil­ton’s po­lice child pro­tec­tion team moved into An­gle­sea Tow­ers along­side CYF to en­able both agen­cies to bet­ter co-or­di­nate.

In a re­cent re­port, New Zealand’s record of child well­be­ing rated poorly in sev­eral mea­sures rel­a­tive to more than 30 other de­vel­oped coun­tries.

The re­port, which used data from 2009-10, placed New Zealand at 25 out of 35 coun­tries for child health and safety.

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