The Family Violence Prevention Centre is having an impact on family violence screening and influencing how screening and first line response is being undertaken in health services across Victoria.

Our key project in this area SUSTAIN, aims to develop sustainable ways to identify and respond to women experiencing domestic violence during antenatal care, which can be integrated into the complex system of antenatal care. It includes identifying how to overcome the challenges for health systems and the development of a Health System Implementation model as a framework for screening and response to domestic violence in antenatal care, particularly in regional and rural settings with low resources.

The Centre is influencing policy and practice in the Victorian family violence reforms.

The Centre’s Director, Professor Kelsey Hegarty is advising government on the roll out of the Multi Agency Risk Assessment and Management. The Women’s CEO, Dr Sue Matthews is the only health representative on the Family Violence state-wide Steering Committee, championing the role of the health sector.

Strengthening hospital responses to family violence program

Since 2014, the Victorian Government has funded The Royal Women's Hospital and Bendigo Health to lead the development and implementation of a framework to embed a whole-of-hospital approach to identify and respond to family violence. The Strengthening Hospital Responses to Family Violence program is now operationalised in 88 Victorian hospitals and health services, and successfully delivers on recommendation 95 of the Royal Commission into Family Violence. Due to the program’s success:

  • In the last 18 months, 27,500 staff in Victorian hospitals have been trained, which is approximately 22% of the Victorian hospital workforce 
  • 81% of health services now have senior leadership engagement to effectively respond to family violence
  • 61% of health services have policies and procedures to support victim/survivors of family violence
  • 84% of health services now have established partnerships with local specialist family violence services.

The Women’s also led the 3rd state-wide forum attended by 325 professionals in August 2018. The event was launched by the Minister for Prevention of Family Violence, the Hon Natalie Hutchins. The 4th edition of the Strengthening Hospital Responses to Family Violence toolkit was launched in August 2018. This online resource includes over 30 new specialist tools that the Women’s co-designed with the health sector and that have been accessed online 12,000 over the last financial year.

Family Violence Workforce Support

In 2017-2018, the Women’s was funded for 12 months to design and deliver the Family Violence Workplace Support Program. This program has trained over 1,000 managers and practitioners across the state, and supported 88 hospitals to respond to staff impacted by family violence. This program developed specialist human resource and industrial relations practice tools that include the development of policies, procedures and industrial instruments, training for managers and family violence contact officers, sector partnership development, capacity building and secondary-consultation. This project is currently unfunded.

Family violence Hospital System Evaluation

The Centre was successful in a Collier Charitable Fund grant. The two-year research project, which commences on 1 July 2019, will assess the impact of the Strengthening Hospital Responses to Family Violence program across ten Victorian hospitals. The special grant will build a rigorous evidence base for what approaches are effective in enhancing identification and response to family violence within a health setting and supporting and responding to patients and hospital staff who disclose their experience of family violence.

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