The Safer Families Centre for Research Excellence launches new evidence briefs
The Safer Families Centre for Research Excellence has launched three evidence briefs. The first evidence brief summarises the findings of the Mothers’ and Young People’s Study, the second identifies and recommends solutions to the barriers health professionals may experience when addressing domestic violence, and the third describes the impacts of domestic violence on children and their family relationships.
Launching the Safer Families Evidence Briefs. (L-R): Professor Kelsey Hegarty, Co-Director Safer Families Centre, The Hon Ros Spence MP, Minister for Prevention of Family Violence, Professor Mike McGuckin, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, and Lily Fetter, Advocate against Family Violence.
Further details of the evidence briefs and their recommendations can be found below:
Evidence Brief 1 summarises findings from the Mothers’ and Young People’s Study – an Australian longitudinal study investigating the health and wellbeing of over 1500 first-time mothers and their first-born children. Some key findings include:
- One in six women in the study were afraid of an intimate partner before becoming pregnant with their first child.
- Women who were afraid of their partner or ex-partner during pregnancy were three times more likely to experience abnormal vaginal bleeding, and two to three times more likely to experience urinary and faecal incontinence.
- More than one in four women reported experiencing intimate partner violence in the four years after having their first child.
- Women with recent experiences of intimate partner violence were three times more likely to have a child experiencing emotional or behavioural difficulties and twice as likely to have high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes.
Evidence Brief 2 identifies the barriers health professional may experience when addressing domestic abuse and outlines the system changes that are needed to help practitioners carry out this work. Recommendations from this evidence brief include:
- Include victim survivors in the co-design of health sector reform.
- Create better linkages between health and specialist sectors.
- Fund care navigators to assist more holistic and tailored pathways to care for victim survivors.
- Provide clear domestic abuse protocols and referral pathways.
- Regular mandatory on-site training for all staff, not just clinical staff.
- Build the capacity of staff to engage with people who use violence.
- Education and training in cultural competency and awareness.
Transforming the health system to address family and domestic violence. (L-R): Dr Claudia Garcia-Moreno, World Health Organisation, Dr Libby Hindmarsh, Uncle Mick Adams, and Fiona Weaver.
Evidence Brief 3 describes the impact of domestic and family violence on children and their family relationships, identifies barriers to effective responses in the Victorian service system, and outlines key practice principles for an all-of-family approach. Some of the recommendations include:
- Early engagement with families while risks are likely to be less severe.
- Tailor responses to families’ broader needs, going beyond a focus on safety and risk assessment.
- Provide culturally safe and holistic responses relevant to the specific communities where families live.
- Prioritise support for parent-child relationship strengthening, recovery and healing, from infancy onwards.
- Funding for relationship-based service responses with adequate engagement and pre-program support for complex therapeutic programs.
- Collaborative practices between organisations and sectors with information exchange and feedback loops.
- Build strong workforce skills in relation to domestic abuse and family violence, including working with perpetrators.