Improving outcomes for victims of family violence

The Family Violence Sensitive Practice Clinical Guideline has been updated and put into practice.  

The refreshed guideline provides a single point of reference for all clinicians and sets out a standard approach, a six-step model, to identify, assess and respond to people experiencing family violence while receiving care at Monash Health.  

It is designed to: 

  1. Outline roles and responsibilities 
  2. Assist clinicians to safely and effectively engage and work with people experiencing family violence (victim survivors – adult and child) 
  3. Provide an understanding of family violence 

This guideline aligns with the Victorian Government’s Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management (MARAM) Framework. MARAM identifies the gaps and issues found by the Royal Commission into Family Violence.  

Dr Nicola Rodd, Emergency Physician, states the importance of the guideline and the role it plays when responding to family violence.  

“Identifying and responding to family violence is such a critical part of our jobs as clinicians. Having a clear guideline to assist us in identifying the next steps in referral and management is crucial in helping us to support our patients and their families,” she explains.  

Our guideline is supported by the one page Family Violence Flowchart, which provides visual guidance for the identification and response pathway for victim survivors.  

“The new Family Violence flowchart is a particularly useful resource in the fast-paced environment of the emergency department and will help us to deliver better, safer care,” Dr Rodd states.  

The refreshed guideline in action 

Our employees may identify family violence by disclosure, suspected family violence signs, or through targeted screening (i.e. maternity services). Signs of violence may present differently in various cohorts. 

The following case study outlines how Monash Health employees could assess and respond when an older person presents to the Emergency Department with signs of family violence. 

Emergency Department nurse Sarah is looking after Beth, who is 82 years old and lives at home. Beth has dementia and presents with dehydration. During routine care, Sarah notices Beth has dark bruising around her wrists, appears malnourished, and has poor hygiene.  

Sarah is concerned about Beth’s wellbeing and is worried she may have been restrained. She talks to Nurse in Charge, Michael, who shares her concern.  

Michael has recently completed his family violence sensitive practice training on LATTE and is aware that these signs could be indications of family violence. Michael advises Sarah to seek a secondary consultation and to look on Prompt for guidance about who to call.  

On Prompt, Sarah finds the family violence sensitive practice clinical guideline, follows the steps and sees it contains:  

  • A table outlining signs of family violence  
  • The contact details for the Monash Health Elder Abuse Liaison Officer 

Sarah contacts the Elder Abuse Liaison Officer, Selina Neville on 0431 453 950. She provides guidance and advice, and social work is called to undertake an assessment. 

It is worth noting that in some instances there is a responsibility and duty of care, particularly around children, where additional mandatory reporting is a requirement. Please check the guideline for further information and advice.  

If you are a manager supporting an employee who has been impacted by family violence, please refer to the Family violence: manager’s guide to supporting our employees guideline for further advice.  

For more information 

Visit Prompt to view the Family Violence Sensitive Practice Clinical Guideline, visit Respectful Relationships and Family Violence on the COVID-19 website or visit the Family Violence intranet page for more resources and information.  

Approved by Adjunct Professor Katrina Nankervis 

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