26 September 2023

Hospitals to test for family violence

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The Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) has launched a pilot program to screen for domestic violence in hospital emergency departments.

The DCJ said the $1.8 million program, Domestic Violence Screening and Response in Emergency Departments, was funded by the Commonwealth Government under the national Health Innovation Fund.

Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, Mark Speakman said the program offered the widest scale of domestic violence screening of its kind in Australian emergency departments.

“This program will help identify domestic violence so that crucial steps can be taken to protect victim-survivors from harm,” Mr Speakman said.

“One in four women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner, and on average, one woman is killed in Australia every nine days by a current or former partner,” he said.

Mr Speakman said domestic violence was more prevalent among emergency department users than in most other healthcare and community settings because it was a 24-hour service with relative anonymity.

Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard said women who experienced domestic violence could be assured of the best possible care and discretion in emergency departments.

“Our emergency department staff are there to help so if a woman is identified as experiencing domestic violence, health workers will speak with her to better understand her needs and any concerns around wellbeing and safety,” Mr Hazzard said.

“Depending on her individual needs, she may also be provided with further support from NSW Health, or be referred to other support services that can help provide protection and break the cycle of violence,” he said.

The Minister said health workers would also ask about the safety and wellbeing of children and ensure any risks were appropriately responded to in partnership with the woman.

Mr Hazzard said the pilot program would run for 12 months in six public hospital emergency departments, that couldn’t be identified for safety reasons, with potential to expand it State-wide.

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