It’s time to talk about family violence  

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. It starts the worldwide United Nations 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence and is an opportunity for us to take stock of our family violence work.  

It’s is also extremely important this year that we understand what the experts are telling us; that the pandemic and the lockdowns in Victoria (and indeed around the world) have created what is being referred to ask the ‘shadow pandemic’.  

Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer and chair of the Monash Health Family Violence Taskforce, Clinical Associate Professor Katrina Nankervis, said our health service was also seeing signs of an escalation of issues for people who are not safe at home.  

We have a sense from the increased numbers of consultations our social work and SECASA teams are seeing, and the feedback we have from local service providers, that there are a lot of people coming out of Melbourne’s lockdown and seeking help.  

“This is why it’s so important that all our people are trained to recognise the red flags for family violence, are able to initiate a sensitive enquiry with someone in their care, and understand the range of service options to support someone who is ready to make a change in their life.” 

Almost 6,000 of our employees and managers have had family violence training, which is a fantastic achievement. We need to keep adding to that number.  As members of the community, our own people experience these issues too and this is why we are making manager training compulsory to help with keeping our own employees safe,” Katrina said.  

To support managers, the Manager’s guide to supporting our employees, has been updated with new information about working from home and is available on prompt. 

We have significant resources online to support all employees including: 

These documents can be found on Prompt, on the coronavirus website, or by searching family violence’ on the intranet.   

A new category is also being added to RiskMan this week to capture whether an incident or near miss relates to family violence.  This could include an occupational health and safety risk to employees (e.g. employee is stalked at work by an ex-partner) or a clinical risk to a patient (e.g. Code Black called due to patient being assaulted by family member on the premises). 

In all parts of the health service, we need to be alert to the signs of family violence and ready to have sensitive conversations with our patients and our colleagues and make sure we provide the right advice to help keep people safe.  

Please consider registering for the Women’s webinar on the Shadow Pandemic on 1 December, featuring Rosie Batty AO and Professor Kelsey Hegarty. This is part of their work leading the Strengthening Hospital Responses to Family Violence program.  

If you are a manager, please tune in to today’s Manager Briefing, where you will hear the latest and also understand that manager family violence training is now compulsory. We will also kick off our ‘You can ask about family violence campaign’ internally and on social media.  

Approved by Katrina Nankervis

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