Sustain: Sustainability of Identification and Response to Family Violence in antenatal care

A project designed to navigate, assess and respond to domestic violence (DV) in the complex system of antenatal care.

This project aims to understand and support the integration of evidence based, effective screening, risk assessment and first-line response to domestic violence (DV) into the complex system of antenatal care. It will build on existing resources and research, to focus on women assessed as currently in “lower risk” situations, who are often not in contact with DV services but attend health services for pregnancy. 

Domestic violence screening in antenatal care is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and this screening aims to identify women at risk of DV, many of whom are in ongoing relationship with the perpetrator. There is variability of antenatal screening rates and quality across Australia. In New South Wales, screening has occurred for over a decade with mixed success, while in Victoria, providers will be mandated from 2018, to screen using the Common Risk Assessment and Management Framework. This provides a unique opportunity to learn from the two states’ different antenatal experiences about what works, for whom, and in what context. The project team members from the University of Melbourne include Professor Kelsey Hegarty and Elizabeth McLindon, with other members joining from the Royal Women’s Hospital, University of NSW and WHO.