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​Family violence

In Victoria, intimate partner violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and illness in women aged 15 to 44.

Primary health care providers have a central and critical role in helping people experiencing family and domestic violence.

NWMPHN is committed to supporting primary care providers to improve the health and wellbeing of people in our region. This includes improving coordination and collaboration with other organisations and services.

Primary Care Pathways to Safety Program (2019-2022)

NWMPHN is one of 6 PHNs funded by the Australian Department of Health to expand the Primary Care Pathways to Safety Program, which provides direct tailored support to primary care providers. It improves collaboration and builds greater cohesion and coordination across local health, social care and family violence services.

This involves 6 key activities:

  1. Bringing multi-disciplinary health professionals from across the region together to form Communities of Practice in 2021, and 2022.
  2. Embedding family violence in HealthPathways Melbourne.
  3. Providing the Intensive Quality Improvement (QI) Project 2021–22, so far completed by 26 practices.
  4. Integrating with the family violence sector. For example, family violence support workers from Gen West and Berry Street now co-deliver practice education with the University of Melbourne.
  5. Making available a self-directed quality improvement template to all practices.
  6. Delivering a whole-of-region communications campaign to raise awareness and highlight the role of primary care services.

Read more about the outcomes of the Primary Care Pathways to Safety Program. This program is now funded until December 2022.

Starting the conversation

Some men experience family violence, but women and children are most affected. Often people in a violent or abusive relationship want to talk about the issue but are unsure who to tell, what to say or how to bring it up.

Starting the conversation can be challenging, but health professionals are well placed to identify and respond. With the right tools and supports, you can help empower victims to break the silence and seek.
"I will start to initiate the conversation. It was startling to read research that women may not raise the issues unless asked." – How to start the conversation about family violence

Primary care provides effective intervention

“WEAVE” is a project that grew out of 2010 pilot, led by Melbourne University General Practice expert Professor Kelsey Hegarty, that codified interactions between GPs and female patients in order to screen for intimate partner violence.

We’re working with the University of Melbourne to provide this program to general practices in the region.

This video captures why identifying family violence needs to be embedded into best practice.
Rosie Batty's story

Education and training

Several organisations offer education and training on identifying and responding to family violence. Visit our for details, and subscribe to our fortnightly newsletter for information about upcoming sessions.

“Having the nurses there doing the training is excellent because they’re often the people that patients tend to talk to.”

Quality improvement

Intensive Family Violence Quality Improvement Project 2021-22

As part of the Primary Care Pathways to Safety Program and following on a 2020 trial, NWMPHN partnered with the University of Melbourne’s Safer Families Centre to respond to the high prevalence of family violence-related presentations in primary health care settings. The result was the Intensive Family Violence Quality Improvement Project 2021–22.

Over 18 months, 70 general practitioners, 48 nurses, 18 allied health professionals and 43 general practice administration staff from 26 general practices completed the training, which was facilitated the Safer Families Centre, Berry Street and GenWest, using our Quality Improvement Activity .

Read more about the program results and outcomes or watch a video on how one practice adapted to the quality improvement project or read our case studies.

IPC Health – Steps to identify and support patients experiencing family violence
IPC Health – Steps to identify and support patients experiencing family violence

Self-Directed Quality Improvement

Based on the Intensive Family Violence Quality Improvement Project 2021–22, a Self-Directed QI Toolkit has been developed. This includes 2 new QI activity templates:

These make it quick and easy for you to drive and record sustainable improvements in your practice.

To learn more visit family violence self-directed QI activities or go to the QI activities page.

Working together – cross-sector collaboration

Community of Practice: Family Violence

Our Family Violence Community of Practice brings together professionals from general practice, mental health organisations, drug and alcohol services, hospitals and the family violence sector. A series of annual events will foster interdisciplinary and cross-sector learning and pathway development.

Read more about these sessions:

Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme

The Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (FVISS) and Child information Sharing Scheme (CISS) make it easier for professionals to collaborate, and better support the children and families with which they work. FVISS enables the sharing of information for family violence risk assessment or risk management in relation to children and adults.

Refer to our article for more information on the scheme.

Support, resources and tools

International researchers estimate that a full-time GP sees up to five women experiencing underlying intimate partner violence per week – but some may not disclose without prompts.

Research also reveals a spike in family violence during major crises.

Visit the family violence clinical services webpage to access a range of resources, including education and training, services and tools such as, the Self-Directed Quality Improvement templates.