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Family violence and information sharing

Family violence is a serious and significant issue in New Zealand:

  • About half of all homicides in New Zealand are committed by an offender who is identified as family.
  • Responding to family violence accounts for 41% of a frontline Police Officer’s time.
  • 76% of family violence incidents are NOT reported to Police.
  • New Zealand has the highest rate of intimate partner violence in the OECD.

Child Matters (NZ Charitable Trust dedicated to the prevention of child abuse) reports:

  • On average one child is killed every 5 weeks.
    • Most of these children are under five and the largest group is less than a year old
  • Ninety percent of all child deaths are perpetrated by someone the child knew.
  • For the year 1 April 2017 – 31 March 2018 there were:
    • 89,650 Reports of Concern to Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children.
  • Studies have found abused and neglected children to be at least 25 percent more likely to experience problems such as delinquency, teen pregnancy, low academic achievement, drug use and mental health problems

In July a new information sharing scheme was introduced by the Government under the Family Violence Act 2018 and by sections 65A to 66D of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989.

Essentially this change in law allows social service practitioners including physiotherapists to better share information about family violence.

What this means for physiotherapists is that if in the course of practicing you receive information about family violence you are able to pass this information on to other social service practitioners.

There is an overview of the new law here.

There is guidance on information sharing here.

In addition, there is a helpline on 0508 INFOSH (463 674). This helpline is to assist agencies and practitioners in using the guidance and applying the new laws. Confidential information and reports of concern should not be disclosed to this helpline.

When a physiotherapist receives a request made under s.66 of the Oranga Tamariki Act by a representative from either Police or Oranga Tamariki for information relating to the safety or well-being of a child or young person, they must release the information.

However, before releasing the information the physiotherapist should confirm that it is requested by a representative from either Police or Oranga Tamariki and the request is about a person who is under 18 years.

In the case of requests made under s. 66A of the Oranga Tamariki Act, or under s 20 of the Family Violence Act, the physiotherapist must consider providing the information requested.