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Domestic and family violence (DFV) resources to support the health workforce

Queensland Health's DFV Toolkit of resources for health workers

The health system is often a first point of contact for people who have experienced domestic and family violence (DFV).

Queensland Health's DFV Toolkit of resources for health workers was developed in 2016 to help health workers use sensitive inquiry to safely and appropriately recognise, respond, and refer to suspicions and disclosures of DFV. On this page you will find online and face-to-face training modules, guidelines, factsheets and clinical tools for a range of health workers, including first responders and those working in hospitals and health services.

The toolkit was revised in 2019 to include updated statistics, references and information about government priorities and emerging themes in contemporary human services practice. Updates include further information about:

  • COVID-19 and DFV
  • coercive control and reproductive coercion as types of DFV
  • the impact of systemic issues on the risk and incidence of DFV
  • the use of trauma-sensitive care
  • using a 'human rights lens' to respond to issues of diversity.

COVID-19 and DFV

For people experiencing DFV, being at home is not always a safe place. We know that the incidence of DFV has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic period. Measures introduced to reduce the spread of COVID-19 have increased the risk of DFV. These include changes to access to support services, social restrictions, home schooling and self-isolation and quarantine requirements, as well as the stress caused by the economic impacts such as unemployment.

Health services may become the most accessible support services for people experiencing DFV during the COVID-19 pandemic. When treating and/or discharging patients, it is imperative that health professionals assess the patient's safety at home and provide safe, appropriate and timely responses to presentations of DFV. Safety planning now needs to take into account the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the Domestic and family violence COVID-19 factsheet (PDF 287kB) for guidance on how to recognise, respond, and refer safely and appropriately to suspicions and disclosures of DFV within the context of COVID-19. The factsheet includes a Safety Planning Checklist which considers the complexity of safety planning within the context of potential impacts and restrictions resulting from COVID-19.

DFV services will be accessible throughout the pandemic period. For information about availability and any changes to the mode of service delivery, read Operation of domestic and family violence services during the pandemic period (PDF 271kB).

Training resources to support clinicians

Strengthening the health system response to violence against women

One in 3 women throughout the world will experience physical and/or sexual violence by a partner or sexual violence by a non-partner. This violence has a wide range of short and long term health consequences. The health system is a place where women who have experienced violence can go in order to receive services and support for their physical and mental health needs.

Video transcript

One in three women experience violence at the hands of their husband or partner, that's over 800 million women worldwide.

These women can feel trapped, afraid, their lives are often restricted. Those who consider leaving often fear ending up penniless or losing their children.

Over time their confidence slips away, making a life without violence seem a distant memory.

The abuse can lead to injuries as well as serious physical and mental health problems, in some cases even death. Many women contract sexually transmitted infections or have unwanted pregnancies and when pregnant, have a greater risk of miscarriage or of having a premature or low birth weight baby.

They can experience depression, anxiety and other mental health problems or become addicted to drugs and alcohol.

It can be hard to know who to trust or where to turn but there is a place they can go; a visit to a local clinic is often one of the few opportunities women have to go out alone and it's important for doctors and nurses to make sure this isn't a missed opportunity.

When doctors, nurses and midwives listen with compassion, survivors are more likely to share their story. When they ask the right questions they can uncover what is really happening and challenge cultural attitudes that say it's okay for a husband to hit his wife.

They can reassure women that it's not their fault and can work with women to help them stay safe and where necessary connect them with other services that can provide, for example, shelter, psychological support, legal services, and financial opportunities.

More women can find their way to live without violence when changes are implemented across healthcare and other systems. Changes such as private rooms for consultations, training that enables doctors and nurses to respond better to women's needs, and raising awareness of the harmful consequences of violence for women and children and how to prevent it.

Making these changes helps foster a culture where violence is unacceptable and where women have the courage to speak out. Imagine if that could happen to each and every one of those 800 million women.

Text:

Health care providers should:

RAISE awareness
LEARN more about the issue
LISTEN with care and empathy
LINK women to other services
SPEAK OUT to end and respond to violence

Governments should:

CHALLENGE social norms that accept violence against women
PROVIDE timely access to health services
ENSURE training of all health providers
STRENGTHEN evidence and data collection
STOP VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS

For more information see:

http://who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/violence/en/

Training

Read the Health workforce domestic and family violence training guideline (PDF 309kB).

'Domestic and family violence train-the-trainer' sessions have been facilitated in Hospital and Health Services (HHS) and private health services throughout Queensland. Health workers and professionals in both the private and public sectors can request to participate in DFV training for the health workforce, delivered by skilled, local trainers. If you would like to find out your local DFV training contact, please email StrategicPolicy@health.qld.gov.au.

Understanding domestic and family violence module

The Understanding domestic and family violence training module aims to raise awareness of DFV among all health workers, and provides guidance on how to respond to a disclosure of DFV.

It provides information for all health workers, both clinical and non-clinical, in public and private health facilities.

The information is also available in other formats:

Clinical response to domestic and family violence module

The Clinical response to domestic and family violence training module aims to support clinicians working in a range of clinical areas (e.g. maternity services, emergency department and mental health) to identify DFV through a sensitive inquiry model and to respond appropriately.

Train the trainer

These 'train the trainer' resources are targeted towards clinical leads in DFV from a range of clinical areas.

Referral model

A Domestic and family violence referral model (PDF 1.93MB) and flowchart (PDF 137kB) has been developed to guide clinicians through the process of referring a client to specialist services, in cases where this becomes necessary.

Please also refer to the Domestic and family violence online portal to support Queenslanders experiencing or impacted by DFV.

The portal facilitates easy access to information and support services from across Queensland Government agencies and selected funded services and caters for people with a range of needs and individual circumstances including women with children, First Nations people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (CALD), people from rural and regional communities and people in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) relationships.

It is a useful resource for friends, family and bystanders who are looking for information on how to support a loved one, friend or colleague. The portal can also be accessed by health workers and clinicians across the state who are looking for local referral options for clients.

Information sharing guidelines

The Domestic and Family Violence Information Sharing Guidelines support the implementation of new information sharing provisions under the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012. The guidelines support practitioners to share information appropriately with each other in order to appropriately assess and manage DFV risk, and in a manner consistent with legislative amendments.

A quick-reference Domestic and family violence information sharing factsheet (PDF 81kB) and flowchart (PDF 97kB) is also available for use by the health workforce working in busy and complex clinical environments.

Non-lethal strangulation in DFV

Non-lethal strangulation in DFV became a stand-alone criminal offence in Queensland in April 2016. The intent of a stand-alone strangulation offence is primarily to improve justice responses and to increase women’s safety.

A Non-lethal Strangulation in DFV factsheet (PDF 170kB) and flowchart (PDF 236kB) has been developed to provide the health workforce with easy-to-access, evidence-based information for use in busy clinical environments.

Antenatal screening for DFV

The Antenatal screening for domestic and family violence guideline (PDF 303kB) has been developed for Queensland Health professionals involved in providing care to women during the antenatal period. Pregnancy can trigger or intensify the occurrence of DFV and this guideline supports health professionals to identify and respond to the particular needs of pregnant women at risk or experiencing DFV. Specific antenatal screening training scenarios (PDF 192kB) and a training video can be used to enhance understanding and implementation of the guideline.

Impacts of DFV against women with disability

Resources for women with disability impacted by DFV

Information and support resources have been co-designed with women with disability, the DFV services sector and disability services sector to ensure:

  • women with disability, and their friends and family members and carers, understand and recognise the signs of DFV
  • women with disability understand that DFV is never okay
  • women with disability, and their friends and family members and carers, understand that help is available and know how to access support safely and appropriately.

The resources are free and available online via www.qld.gov.au/neverokay.

DFV training modules

A suite of online training modules (Disability and domestic and family violence – What every worker needs to know) have also been developed to support the disability workforce and organisations to effectively identify and respond to DFV experienced by women with disability.

The online training has been developed by WorkUP Queensland and funded by the Office for Women and Violence Prevention, Department of Justice and Attorney-General. It is free and can be accessed via the WorkUP Queensland website.

Background

The Taskforce on DFV in Queensland was established to examine Queensland's DFV support systems and make recommendations to the Premier on how the system could be improved and future incidents of DFV could be prevented. The Not Now Not Ever: Putting an end to Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland report was presented to the Premier in February 2015.

Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) is a Commonwealth-funded not-for-profit company established to deliver relevant and translatable research evidence which drives policy and practice, leading to a reduction in the levels of violence against women and their children.

Last updated: 17 February 2022

What's New

Resources for women with disability impacted by DFV www.qld.gov.au/neverokay

DFV training modules workupqld.org.au/disability-workforce/

OurWatch - Lets change the story: Violence Against Women in Australia

Australia has a choice. We can change the story that currently sees a woman murdered every week by a current or former partner. We can choose a future where women and their children live free from violence. Learn more

Find local support

There are specialist domestic and family violence support services available in your local area.

People impacted by domestic and family violence may require financial support and can access brokerage and emergency crisis payments.