Medical Community Tackles Domestic Violence

By Sharon Smith
Tuesday, 23 June, 2015

Emergency departments personnel, general practitioners and community nurses are often the first to see signs of abuse, and so the Australian medical profession is committing its resources to addressing domestic violence in the community.
The need for the whole community to work together against domestic and family violence was one of the central themes of Dame Quentin Bryce’s landmark report, Not Now, Not Ever: Putting an end to domestic and family violence in Queensland.
This year has seen a more and more organisations dedicated to reporting the statistics on domestic and family violence. In 2015 figures, two women are killed every week; one woman is hospitalised every three hours; and countless children are traumatised by witnessing the violence in their own homes and families.
The Women’s Legal Services New South Wales established a General Practitioners toolkit in 2013 for those encountering patients experiencing domestic violence, covering support, reporting and counselling as well as further training resources. Initial reports from the service state that over one in five women make their first disclosure of domestic violence to their GP.
More recently the Queensland Government held a number of roundtables to set up a state-wide strategy on tackling domestic and family violence. The plan includes the construction of two new crisis shelters and a $49 million fund over five years fordomestic violence prevention and support services, focusing on the healthcare sector.
“Health professionals are vital in responding to the horrific effects of domestic and family violence. They take a lead role in supporting victims of abuse and may be the first, or only help that victims seek,” said Minister for Women, Shannon Fentiman, who hosted the roundtable.
“The health sector is already very active in this area and the roundtable aimed to harness their ideas about what more can be done to eliminate this problem.
The Australian Nurses and Midwifery Foundation have swung their full support behind the issue, by becoming a founding partner of the Luke Batty Foundation Never Alone campaign against domestic violence.
“We know that many women experience family violence, and that it's time to build a movement that lets all victims know that they are never alone,” says Lee Thomas, Federal Secretary, Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation.
Domestic and family violence can take a number of forms, and is defined by the Luke Batty Foundation as any of the following intimidation-style activities:

  • physical eg slapping, hitting, choking, stabbing

  • sexual eg rape, harassment, being forced to watch pornography

  • emotional or psychological eg isolating the person from friends, family, culture, threats against children, threats to commit suicide or self-harm

  • economic eg withholding money, controlling family finances, taking out loans in a partner’s name without consent

  • stalking eg repeated following, watching or harassing.

Anyone who is experiencing or suspects domestic violence is happening to a friend, colleague or loved one should contact DV Connect on 1800 600 636.

Never Alone campaign Luke Batty Foundation
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