Primary healthcare news, information & resources

Child abuse and family violence

The following resources will help you increase your understanding about child protection and family violence, and better prepare you for conversations with patients and families.

Child protection and family violence policy

Midlands Health Network has developed child protection and family violence policies and procedures to support Midlands Health Network staff working with children and their families.

These policies and procedures will be adapted into a template to guide general practices in the development of their own practice policy. 

The template will be distributed in the next few months and there will be training available for general practice teams on how to use the template.

In the mean time, if you are interested in creating your own policy, Child Matters has a great resource for guiding you through the process, available at

Making a commitment to protecting children and families from violence and abuse ensures we are on the way from being a partial bystander to the problem of child abuse to being active participants in a community wide effort to prioritise the protection of children.

How to help your patients

A step-by-step guide for practice staff on how to manage a child abuse situation will be available as part of the policy rollout above.

In the mean time, it is very important that staff do not make any decisions alone.  Always consult with colleagues and external specialist services such as Child Youth and Family, your local DHB child protection coordinator, or Police.

Resources and brochures from Child Matters

Child Matters is a registered charitable trust dedicated to preventing harm to children in New Zealand. Since 1994, they have been working in communities throughout New Zealand, educating, supporting and inspiring adults to protect children.

Child Matters provides guidance, advice, education and support to those in a position to act to protect children. The training and education programmes provide adults with essential skills, and just as importantly the confidence, to intervene when a child needs help. To date, Child Matters has trained over 21,000 adults in New Zealand in how to recognise and respond to child abuse.

A number of resources prepared by Child Matters including books and brochures are available at

Child Matters also offers child protection studies workshops, which are short targeted courses designed to provide introductory level information about specific child protection related subjects. More information is available at

Your Buddy Pack, delivered with your Buddy by your network liaison team, has a copy of the 'How Can I Tell' and 'Speak Up' brochures.

Hidden in Front of Us

Hidden in Front of Us is a book published by Anthea Simcock, CEO at Child Matters.

Twenty four adult survivors of child abuse share their experiences of being children who desperately needed an adult to stand up for them. They also share their ideas about what could have been done to help. Their words and stories provide an insight into what each of us can do when we have a concern about a child.

A common theme mentioned by survivors is the fear of abuse and other adults not believing them.  The anticipated fear of being beaten was worse than the beating. The children were able to numb out the beating as it was happening, but the waiting was worse.  Children of parents and carers who were high up in society were not immune to this.  One of these parents joked to visitors about the softball bat at home was to fend off house intruders when it was actually used frequently on the children. This particular child prayed that the parents would use the bat rather than the bamboo from the bush in the garden because that hurt more.

For more information and to purchase your own copy, visit

Children's Action Plan - Ministry of Social Development

New Zealand's Minister for Social Development, Hon. Paula Bennett released the White Paper for Vulnerable Children on 11 October 2012 with the Children's Action Plan that implements the White Paper. The Children's Action Plan is based on nearly 10,000 submissions sent in on the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children, and consultation with key experts in health, justice, education and social services, and what international best practice shows keeps children safe from harm.

Take some time to visit to find out what work is taking place.  

Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care

Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care (DSAC), contracted by the Ministry of Health, offers a free training programme on the recognition and response to partner abuse.

Midlands Health Network is working with DSAC to bring this training directly to our practices across the network. 

The training is delivered by one of six DSAC trainers (GPs) who are based throughout New Zealand. The session(s) includes background information, video clips, information about local community resource agencies and case discussion, all of which go towards enabling the health practitioner to gain confidence and skills in this important area of their work. Practical ways of asking the hard questions and equally practical responses to assisting those who experience violence in the home will be presented.

The sessions have been held around the country since April 2002 to over 5,000 attendees and have received excellent feedback as to their usefulness.

For more information, visit

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