When Amanda Menzies went into Work and Income last week, it was to apply for a dental grant.

She got the grant, but it was being questioned about an 18-year-old domestic violence incident in which she was the victim that upset her.

"It's hard enough going to Winz and I don't really feel like having a discussion about my past," she said.

"I've just never had it happen before."

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The Ministry of Social Development say it has a Family Violence Response programme which recognises some victims of family violence are also Work and Income clients and that the ministry was well-placed to offer support for people in such situations.

It has been in place for a decade.

Ms Menzies said she could see good reasons for people to have flags on their file but a family violence one needed to be handled with care.

"It is an issue that is out there and is very difficult to talk about and it is part of society; I just don't understand why it would be relevant."

She said the Winz office was a public place and there were times when someone could be there with their partner or children.

"I can see that it could cause a lot of problems if it's not done properly. I just think it needs to be handled with care."

The ministry's community liaison advisor Gail Bennett said the aim of the programme was to recognise and identify where support was needed, and if necessary, refer clients to specialist services.

"Where a staff member is working with a client and an alert does come up this is an opportunity to discuss if the client is currently safe and okay and also an opportunity for offers of referrals to other appropriate services the client may wish to take up.

"The programme is voluntary and a client can request the note or alert be removed."

All front line staff received compulsory family violence awareness training.