Photo: In Ward E2 at Waikato Hospital nursing, midwifery and administration staff have put up white and black balloons and message posters around the ward, and produced a powerful PowerPoint presentation to remind the team why family violence screening is so important.
Across Waikato District Health Board – and around the country – there are activities and promotions to support White Ribbon Day.
White Ribbon Day (25 November) is an international day aimed at highlighting that violence against women is never acceptable. It focusses particularly on changing men’s attitudes, by men talking to men and challenging statements and actions that condone or support any type of violence.
On Ward E2 in Women’s Services at Waikato Hospital a large hand-made poster on the end wall of the ward corridor states that “Family Violence is NOT OK”, and that same message can be found in many of the DHB’s services across the Waikato. More than 2000 white ribbons have been distributed for staff to wear.
Family violence is a health issue – research shows that victims of violence present to health services including emergency departments, GPs, community clinics and mental health services much more regularly than non-victims. As a result, this gives health professionals a significant opportunity to identify and help provide interventions for victims of family violence.
The New Zealand Violence Intervention Programme includes a policy to screen all women 16 years and over for family violence. “Screening” means that in designated areas women will be asked a short series of questions to identify if they are having any issues, and in other areas staff will also ask questions if they recognise signs of possible family violence.
“This isn’t a case of just ticking the boxes. We ask these questions because we care,” says the DHB’s Family Violence Intervention coordinator Kim To’angutu. “Our staff know how to do this in an appropriate and sensitive way.
“We want people to feel they can let us know if they have concerns or if they are experiencing abusive behaviour themselves.”
For Waikato DHB, the day kicks off a longer term campaign to keep family violence prevention and awareness to the fore during the Christmas/New Year period when family stress, financial pressures and over-indulgence in alcohol can produce an upsurge in family violence.