In 2003 a family violence policy was introduced to the Royal New Zealand Plunket Society. Given the high prevalence of family violence among women in New Zealand, and the supportive relationship between a new mother and her Plunket nurse that spans several visits, there is an opportunity for effective screening and intervention.

Since the implementation of the policy in 2003, however, little was known about how things were going. This research project was designed to evaluate aspects of the Plunket Family Violence Policy.

Download Plunket Family Violence Evaluation Project (2007) PDF 42 pages, 430KB

Research summary

  • Plunket staff talked about their initial anxiety and apprehension in asking women about violence in their relationships, which dissipated once they gained experience and confidence.
  • Ongoing screening was recommended because of the changing nature of relationships between women and their partners over time. Staff also felt some women needed to build a relationship with them (the Plunket nurse) before they would disclose violence.
  • Plunket staff said the introduction of the policy had made them engage with family violence in a way they hadn’t previously.
  • Two of the four Plunket clients interviewed didn’t realise that they had been asked about violence in their relationships after having been screened, indicating that some staff may not be asking the screening question in an effective, direct manner.
  • Among the 133 new baby case records reviewed, 64% had documentation of family violence screening and 6% (n=8) had evidence of a positive screen response.
  • There was significant variation in the screening rate across locations (30% to 80%).
  • Both Plunket staff participants and Plunket client participants spoke about the importance of having a relationship, as this enhanced the ability to have family violence discussions.

Why is this research important?

It is important to find out if the policy has been effective in its intent. The unique service that Plunket offers to women and the ability of Plunket staff to build relationships with their clients were identified as enablers to implementing the Family Violence Policy and Procedures. Activities are currently underway to revise the Family Violence Policy and Protocol, to further support Plunket staff in implementing the policy and in facilitating documentation of screening and intervention.

Who might be interested in this research?

Plunket recognises that family violence affects the health and wellbeing of children, and this is discussed with all families receiving Plunket Well Child Services. This piece of research examines the effectiveness of this discussion as part of the review of the Plunket Family Violence policy.