Who is leading the change
- Department of Health and Human Services
The Victorian Government resource public hospitals to implement a whole-of-hospital model for responding to family violence, drawing on evaluated approaches in Victoria and elsewhere.
Frontline hospital staff are uniquely placed to identify and provide early support to victim survivors of family violence and their families. The Strengthening Hospital Responses to Family Violence initiative ensures those staff have the skills and experience to play a central role in reducing the enduring impact of family violence.
The model for implementing a whole-of-hospital response to family violence was developed by the Royal Women's Hospital and Bendigo Health. The initiative is led by the Royal Women's Hospital and Bendigo Health and focuses on building the capacity and capability of Victorian public health services to deliver a whole-of-hospital response to family violence.
Staff receive training that is designed to equip them with the skills and knowledge to identify patients who may be at risk of family violence and connect them to appropriate support services. This may include a hospital social worker, if available, or the statewide 24/7 phone response service provided by Safe Steps. Clinical and non-clinical staff are offered training. Staff are not trained to be experts in dealing with family violence. They are trained to identify the signs and connect patients to the specialised support they may require. Easily identified clinical champions are available throughout the health services to support staff when they have concerns about family violence.
The resources developed for the initiative by the Royal Women's Hospital ensure that all hospitals have access to a suite of evidence-based tools to support the training of their staff. This toolkit is freely available on the Royal Women's Hospital website and includes action plans, referral pathways, practical guides and examples for each health service to customise to meet the needs of their staff and patients.
The Government has committed $38.4 million to support the development and implementation of the
Strengthening Hospital Responses to Family Violence initiative for five years from 2016-17.
The Royal Women's Hospital and Bendigo Health are sector leads (metro and rural/regional) to support health services. Twenty-seven health services are funded to implement the initiative and provide mentoring and support to the remaining 62 public health services in a regional hub-and-spoke style model. The funding has supported the employment of project workers and staff trainers, and has increased access to internal secondary consultation services, such as social workers, for patients who disclose family violence. The final year of funding for the project is 2020-21.
A major focus for the initiative during 2017-18 was the development and implementation of workplace support programs for staff. The Royal Women's Hospital recognised that some staff who undertake Strengthening Hospital Responses to Family Violence training had then disclosed their own experience of family violence. This has contributed significantly to a shift in workplace culture in many health services.
It is an example of how the sector can respond to emerging issues. The Royal Women's Hospital recognised this unanticipated need for support and addressed it. Additional funding was provided to support the Royal Women's Hospital in developing a set of resources that is now available to all Victorian public health services.
As at 30 June 2020 a total of 67,400 training attendances have been reported by health services since the initiative commenced, reflecting the maturity of implementation.
The fifth edition of the Strengthening Hospital Responses to Family Violence toolkit was released in May 2020. Many of the tools have been updated and refined and several new tools were added. It incorporates changes required by the implementation of the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management Framework (MARAM) and the child and adult information sharing legislation.
Due to current restrictions on face-to-face training, health services are utilising a range of online delivery methods, including webinar and video-recorded sessions.
Forecast implementation date: 31 March 2021.
Reviewed 08 January 2021