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Key role for education and support to reduce family violence

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

More than 500 Eastern Health staff have participated in training and education programs to better identify and support patients who present with family violence issues.

Since its introduction in January, staff in hospital emergency departments and Adult Mental Health programs have been among those to take part in Eastern Health’s Family Violence Training and Education Package.

More than 500 staff have participated in the training program, which aims to provide a better understanding of what family violence is, as well as how to identify and respond to family violence.
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.”

Ms Dowson said research had shown that for many people, healthcare professionals are often the first person they will talk to about family violence.

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

She 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.

“It is here that health services, including Eastern Health, are uniquely placed to respond to family violence and provide a pathway of support and assistance.”

The Eastern Health initiative is funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, and is part the State Government’s Strengthening Hospital Responses for Family Violence project. Eastern
Health was also a finalist in the Whole-of-Hospital Model for Responding to Family Violence category at the 2017 Victorian Healthcare Awards.

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 State Government for their support, and are proud to partner with them on this important project,” Ms Dowson said.

Eastern Health is also a supporter of Victoria against Violence, a 16 day community based education and awareness initiative about family and gender violence which will run from November 25 – December 10.

Eastern Health will be ‘going orange’ as a show of support for a future free from violence against women and girls.

A range of events will be held, including a community and staff forum in Box Hill on November 27, where Eastern Health’s Family Violence Standard will be officially launched.