Taking action against family violence

Friday, August 30, 2019
Taking action against family violence

Research has shown that for many people experiencing family violence, healthcare professionals are often the first person they will talk to. Evidence has also indicated that victims of family violence use an emergency department up to a third more than those who have not been a victim.

For a number of reasons, some victims may not contemplate engaging with a specialist family violence service.

Health services, including Eastern Health, are therefore uniquely placed to respond to family violence and provide a pathway of support and assistance.

As part of our commitment to the Victorian Government’s Strengthening Hospital Responses to Family Violence project, more than 4000 staff from Eastern Health have participated in training and education programs to better identify and support patients who present with family violence issues.

The training package aims to provide a better understanding of what family violence is, as well as how to identify and respond to it. As a result, our staff can identify patients experiencing family violence and provide appropriate frontline supportive care by being able to notice the warning signs, inquire sensitively, respond respectfully and connect victims to family violence support services.

Eastern Health Family Violence Project Manager Katherine Dowson said the focus of the training was to help staff identify patients experiencing family violence and provide appropriate frontline supportive care.

“The training serves to equip our frontline hospital staff to better identify and respond to family violence.

“It is about supporting staff so they know how to sensitively respond to patients who may disclose a family violence issue, and to do so in a professional and responsible way.”

Evidence has also indicated that victims of family violence use an emergency department up to a third more than those who have not been a victim.

Ms Dowson said some victims of family violence may not contemplate engaging with a specialist family violence service.

“However, they will interact with health professionals, including at times of heightened risk for family violence. This may include during pregnancy or following childbirth, or when seeking treatment for injuries or medical conditions arising from violence they have experienced.”

The Eastern Health initiative is funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, and is part of the Victorian Government’s Strengthening Hospital Responses to Family Violence project.

The initiative provides training for workers to notice the warning signs, inquire sensitively, respond respectfully and connect victims to family violence support services.

“We are grateful to the government for their support, and are proud to partner with them on this important project,” Ms Dowson said.

Eastern Health is also a strong supporter of UN Word Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) which is commemorated each year on June 15 to highlight one of the worst manifestations of ageism and inequality in our society; elder abuse.

Elder abuse is a form of family violence, and is a global social issue which affects the health, well-being, independence and human rights of millions of older people around the world. Examples can include–but are not limited to–physical abuse, sexual assault, financial abuse and neglect.

Eastern Health has partnered with Eastern Community Legal Centre (ECLC) to provide a new support system to people experiencing elder abuse across Melbourne’s east. By entering into this partnership Eastern Health will work with ECLC to trial, develop and promote a service where healthcare and social workers are trained to identify and refer older people to appropriate services, and specialised legal support services.