3 Dec 2009

Pilot programme launched to tackle child abuse

6:00 pm on 3 December 2009

The Government has launched an initiative it says will cut the cost and consequences of child abuse in New Zealand.

The First Response pilot will involve advocates from Shine, the country's largest agency dealing with domestic violence, visiting families as quickly as possible to assist victims.

It will be trialled in Auckland until June next year, with the aim of supporting up to 500 at-risk children, particularly those aged under two.

Speaking at the pilot's launch in Auckland, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said there were more than 49,000 reports of family violence to Child, Youth and Family last year.

She said that even a low-key response from a community agency such as Shine can remove further risk.

Shine's Jill Proudfoot says the initiative will provide vulnerable families with the right service at the right time. Comprehensive risk assessments will be made of a family's situation, she says, "and out of that risk assessment we can start developing a safety plan."