Family violence conversations can plant the seed

Geraldine Bilston speaks with Lisa Pellegrino at the You CAN Ask That event

It was conversations with a social worker while she was in hospital after giving birth which first planted the seed with survivor advocate Geraldine Bilston that there was support available should she choose to leave her violent relationship.

It was two years later when she made the move, but the earlier conversations gave her the confidence and understanding that there would be help.

Speaking after the showing of the domestic and family violence episode of You Can’t Ask That on ABC-TV in which she features, Geraldine was a key voice in Monash Health’s panel in an event that focussed on educating employees on how to respond to those affected by family violence.

The panel was hosted by ABC radio’s Lisa Pellegrino, and featured Geraldine, who is also a volunteer at the Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre, Monash Health’s Principal Strategic Advisor, Family Violence, Glenda Bawden, and Deputy Director of Psychology, George Habib.

Geraldine’s voice in having experienced family violence, which also affected her young daughter, was extremely powerful. She spoke strongly of the opportunity health service employees have in ‘planting the seeds’ and giving people confidence that when they are ready to leave there are services designed to support them. In her own experience, Geraldine was helped by health practitioners a number of times in different hospital settings.

Doing very well now in her own recovery, Geraldine said she was speaking with a grateful heart and sharing her story from a place of hope, that influencing others to have the challenging conversations about family violence and asking patients “do you feel safe?” can have such incredible value.

Glenda Bawden and George Habib speaking about family violence.

George spoke about people’s resilience and ability to recover once they are removed from a violent situation. Whilst there can be ongoing impacts, particularly at an emotional level, he said the outlook could be very positive for children and adults once they felt safe. “There is a good news story; treatment helps. As soon as we make people safe, the healing starts to occur.”

Glenda encouraged staff to enrol to do family violence training and become familiar with steps to identify and respond. She also highlighted the importance of looking out for each other, given our own colleagues may also be affected. The new Manager’s guide to supporting our employees will provide useful tools to help respond.

Cheyne Chalmers introduces the Manager’s guide to supporting our employees experiencing family violence.

Each of the speakers offered valuable insight and their presence was warmly received.

The event was held on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – the first of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. You will see Monash Health employees featuring across your screen savers over the next 16 days with important messages about family violence and encouraging you to take a look at the new material available on the intranet.



You CAN ask that – send in your question

Those attending on Monday at Monash Medical Centre and at Dandenong, via video conference, were encouraged to send their questions to:

You can still ask your question too! From now until Tuesday 10 December – Human Rights Day – you can send in questions about family violence.

Answers will be provided on the FAQ page of the new family violence intranet pages.

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