Family violence referrals rises
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.