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Keeping children and families safe

Family violence trainer Kelly Finch during a training session with Emergency Department nurses. 

Family violence in Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula is among the highest in Victoria.

On average, 11 incidents are reported to police every day.

Our family violence programs work both at a system level to ensure we have the right processes in place to tackle family violence, as well as with individuals experiencing violence to provide appropriate care and support.

Strengthening our response to family violence

In February 2018, we launched our Strengthening Hospital Responses to Family Violence program. Led by our Social Work team, the program is strengthening the capacity of our staff to appropriately respond and care for patients and colleagues experiencing family violence.

The program is funded by the State Government and details the specific actions we will take to tackle this intractable health and social issue.

Project leader, social worker Louisa Whitwam explains that a whole-of-health-service culture change requires engagement and integration with people across all levels of the organisation. 

“We are currently rolling out training for staff and volunteers across all areas, and so far around 1300 people have attend one or more of our sessions,” she says.

Actions so far

Since the strategy was implemented earlier in the year:

  • We established a Safer Communities Committee to drive implementation of the strategy across all areas of Peninsula Health.
  • All staff in our Emergency Department, Women’s Health Unit and Community programs have been trained in how to effectively screen, respond to and appropriately support patients experiencing family violence – this means our staff know how to identify patients experiencing family violence and can provide support and advice in a way that will not further endanger the patient.

Working with perpetrators

The MENS program (Men Exploring Non-Violent Solutions) is a 20-week program for men who have been violent and controlling. The program works with these men to create behaviour change, while also holding them accountable for their violent behaviour.

“We work with these men to help them understand the impact of their behaviour on the lives of those around them, and to show them how respectful relationships should work,” explains Program Manager, Mari Barry.

“It’s a challenging role, but our aim is to work with these men to help them better manage their behaviours. The program challenges the participants to be the best version of themselves – and to become better men, better partners and better fathers,” adds Mari.

 Around 200 men completed the program in the last year. Results show a sharp reduction in the nature and severity of violence over the duration of the program, and importantly this reduction has been maintained and improved upon in subsequent months and years.

This article was first published in Quality Care 2018. Read the full edition online here.