Rural Women NZ: privacy concerns in violence Act

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is concerned that there is a lack of access to services and support for rural people and their families who are in abusive situations.

National president Fiona Gower said although RWNZ supported the Government's efforts to create an effective preventive response to family violence through information sharing, it did not support a system that put people at risk and left victims feeling vulnerable and unable to seek help because they are afraid of confidentiality breaches.

The Government recently passed The Family Violence Act 2018, which comes into effect on July 1, and promotes clients' information sharing and disclosures between Government sectors, such as health and education.

However, RWNZ was concerned the privacy of family violence victims may be at risk.

In addition RWNZ was concerned at the lack of access some rural women had to services and support.

Mrs Gower said 39% of rural women would experience violence [at some point], compared to 33% of urban women, as cited in its submission on the Family Violence Legislation Bill in July 2017.

''Rural victims of family violence often cannot leave their situations easily and this isolation and lack of support is significant,'' she said.

''That is only the reported cases, with possibly more than that [number that] we don't know about.

''For many rural families, there are no 'on the ground agencies' to provide services desperately needed.

She said often living in rural communities, where everyone knows everybody, women might not want to tell someone their partner or husband was abusing them.

''So it goes unreported as they are embarrassed or don't want to be seen to be upsetting the apple cart.''

Often, for women living in isolated areas, they do not have the use of a vehicle, or might have to travel some distance to get to support services.

While urban women often have other people to talk to, many people living rurally, including men, do not, and take it out on their partners.

''Women moving to new areas don't know their neighbours well enough to say they need help.''

While there was a focus on supporting male farmers, she said it was the women who were the ''glue in the community''.

''Women who live rurally are unpaid, underpaid/or and undervalued.''

Mrs Gower would also like to see improved connectivity in more isolated places, which will give the women increased access to telehealth services.

Add a Comment

Sponsored Content