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Woman's death highlights family violence

Last updated 05:00 15/01/2013

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Whangarei Leader

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The tragic death of Patrica Anne McGrath once again highlights the need for family violence sufferers to come forward.

The 34-year-old Whangarei resident died four days after allegedly being assaulted in a family violence incident in Kamo on January 4.

A 32-year-old man has been remanded in custody, charged with assault and breach of bail.

Further charges may be laid when the man reappears in court on January 21.

There has been a noticeable increase in the number of clients at Te Puna O Te Aroha Maori Women's Refuge, case worker Nadene Devonshire says.

But the refuge has also been able to reach out to more women because of better communication with the police, she says.

"I do know that the police are doing a much better job," she says. "As soon as they attend a family violence issue they ring us."

The increase in reported family violence incidents shows that neighbours and even children are ringing the police.

But Miss Devonshire says the fact people are still dying from family violence means this country must start educating children at school.

"We need to start earlier," she says.

Whangarei Women's Refuge Tryphina House saw a huge increase in the number of referred clients in 2012.

In the year ending June 2012 the refuge supported 445 women and children as community clients, compared to 285 in the previous 12 months.

"We didn't think things could get any worse but then they did," team leader Jodie Findlay-Harris says.

The effects of the recession have become more noticeable, she says.

"There's no excuse for abuse but there's certainly been a lot more high needs families that have come to us for assistance," she says.

"Previously families would have three of four things going on that they need help with, now we're seeing families coming through with 15 to 20 things that are all going on at the same time."

Following Christmas is a particularly difficult time for struggling families as debts start rolling in, she says.

Both women strongly urge anyone suffering family violence, and those who know about it, to reach out for help.

Call 0800 REFUGE (0800 733 843) if you or someone you know needs help from a Women's Refuge.

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- Whangarei Leader

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