​Family violence

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

While some men experience family violence, it is women and children who 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 to family violence. With the right tools and supports, you can help empower women to break the silence and seek safety.

"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

How GPs and health professionals can start the conversation about family violence

Asking is the first step.

Let your patient know that they can speak openly to you about their concerns, and that they are in a safe and confidential environment.

Questions could include:

  • Is there anything else going on in your life that you’d like to talk about?
  • Are your friends and family aware of what’s going on?
  • Are you feeling frightened?
  • Are you worried about your children’s safety?

Take any available opportunity to raise the subject and ask the question. Try to ensure that patients feel comfortable and safe talking to you. They might also feel comfortable talking to another staff member.

Family Violence Quality Improvement (QI) Project 2021

Now more than ever, general practice plays a vital role in caring for people experiencing family violence.

International researchers have estimated that a full-time GP sees up to five women per week experiencing underlying intimate partner violence. This may or may not be identified by the GP.

Research has also found that there is a spike in family violence during major crises and disasters. Annual crime statistics suggest Victoria’s COVID-19 stay-at-home restrictions may have driven record-high family violence rates.

General practices are encouraged to apply now to join the Family Violence QI project with Professor Kelsey Hegarty’s team from the University of Melbourne’s Safer Families Centre.

Practices that complete the project will receive a $3000 incentive payment.


WEAVE provides targeted family violence education to general practice. It’s the outcome of a world-first trial, led by GP Professor Kelsey Hegarty, on the effectiveness of GP intervention in improving health outcomes for women and children experiencing family violence.

We’re working with the University of Melbourne to provide this program to general practices in the region. The below video captures why identifying family violence needs to be embedded into best practice when working with children and families.

Rosie Batty's story

Education and training

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

Online training

  • Visit the RACGP website to access online training modules.
  • 1800RESPECT has a number of free webinars, with topics ranging from improving cultural understanding in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, to violence against women and children, and understanding LGBTIQ domestic and family violence.

Community of Practice: Family Violence

Our Family Violence Community of Practice brings together professionals from general practice, mental health and drug and alcohol services, hospitals and the family violence sector. This new series of annual events will foster interdisciplinary and cross-sector learning and pathway development. Read more about the first sessions on our website.

Webinar: the shadow pandemic of family violence

Watch our webinar held in November 2020 on the critical role of general practice in responding to the shadow pandemic of family violence.



  • Services for people in our region experiencing family violence

    Please note this is not an exhaustive list. GPs and health professionals can refer to HealthPathways Melbourne for more clinical and referral advice.

    National sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service (24-hour, 7-day helpline, information and support).
    1800 737 732

    Safe Steps
    Family violence response centre (24-hour, 7-day crisis line). Usually crisis counselling, referral, support and advocacy, contact point for women’s refuges, referral to other short-term crisis accommodation
    1800 015 188

    The Orange Door
    The Orange Door welcomes everyone, regardless of migration status. You can seek help or support if you are a migrant or a refugee or do not have permanent residency.
    1800 319 355

    Services, programs and responses to issues of family violence in culturally and linguistically diverse communities. inTouch develop and implement a number of culturally sensitive and holistic models for the provision of services to both victims and perpetrators of family violence.
    1800 755 988

    Djirra (formerly Aboriginal Family Violence Legal Service)
    Provides culturally safe and accessible services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seeking support.
    1800 105 303

    Elizabeth Morgan House Aboriginal Women’s Service
    Provides specialist family violence support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children who are currently experiencing or have experienced family violence.
    (03) 9482 5744

    Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA)
    Supports women, men and families across Australia affected by anxiety and depression during pregnancy and in the first year of parenthood.
    1300 726 306

    CAREinMIND™ services
    GPs, psychiatrists and paediatricians can refer eligible people including children and teenagers to North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network’s free CAREinMIND mental health services. Referrals are assessed and triaged, based on a person’s clinical needs, then allocated to an appropriate, experienced mental health practitioner.

    Northern Integrated Family Violence Services Partnership (NIFVS)
    NIFVS provide workers with an understanding of the family violence system in the northern metropolitan region. It offers an introduction presentation, interviews with service providers and links to resources to help improve responses to family violence.

    No to Violence (men’s referral service)
    No to Violence work with men who use family violence, and the sector that supports them to change their abusive and violent behaviour.
    1300 766 491

    Relationships Australia
    Relationships Australia is a leading provider of relationship support services for individuals, families and communities.
    1300 364 277

    Seniors Rights Victoria
    A free and confidential telephone and advisory service aimed to help prevent elder abuse and safeguard the rights, dignity and independence of senior Victorians.
    1300 368 821

    Switchboard – Rainbow Door
    A free specialist LGBTIQA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Gender Diverse, Intersex, Queer, Asexual, BrotherBoys, SisterGirls) helpline providing information, support, and referral to all LGBTIQA+ Victorians, their friends and family.
    1800 729 367

    Kids Help Line
    Telephone counselling for children and young people.
    1800 551 800

    Australian Psychological Society
    Private counsellors and psychologists.

    Provides all Australians experiencing emotional distress with access to 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
     13 11 14

    Mental health support for all Victorians. Can help GPs find the most suitable mental health support for their patients.
     1800 595 212