Agencies' record on abuse 'the exception'

ANNA WILLIAMS AND FAIRFAX NZ
Last updated 11:21 23/06/2014

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Concerns highlighted by a new report into child abuse and domestic violence do not apply to Marlborough agencies, says Marlborough District councillor Jessica Bagge.

The People's Report, issued last week, summarised the experiences of about 500 survivors of abuse, frontline workers, and offenders who told their stories to the Glenn inquiry.

It identified flaws in the system designed to protect those subjected to the "insidious normalisation of violence in some of our families". That included poor training and co-ordination among institutions and agencies.

But Bagge, who said she was speaking as a community advocate, said Marlborough was the exception.

"We are not untouched by violence in our community, you just need to spend time with the police to see that," she said. "But we're a small geographical area and our agencies and NGOs have really good forums. We are the exception."

The release of the report was a good way to have conversations about family violence and abuse, because it wasn't talked about enough, she said.

"Most of us would know people who might not speak nicely to each other or don't treat each other well.

"The perpetrator is the problem, but quite often the fact the bystander doesn't do anything is a problem, too."

It was time for people and organisations to take ownership of the care they gave to clients, she said.

Marlborough Violence Intervention Project champion co-ordinator Deedee Bancroft agreed, saying the project's organisations worked well together to make Marlborough a safer place to live.

The intervention project was a collaboration between agencies including Child, Youth and Family, Age Concern, Barnardos, Bread of Life, Marlborough Primary Health Organisation, Maata Waka, Marlborough Women's Refuge, police and council representatives.

Women's Refuge spokeswoman Kiri Hannifin said the incidents of abuse outlined in the report were the sort of thing Women's Refuge heard every day.

"The main things I got out of the report was how normalised domestic violence is in this country and how hidden it is and how the system's response to it is failing."

Inquiry patron Dame Cath Tizard said the $2 million inquiry, set up in late 2012 with funding from millionaire Sir Owen Glenn, aimed to address New Zealand's appalling record of child abuse and domestic violence.

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- The Marlborough Express

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