The Alfred’s family violence team has seen a concerning increase in the number of people presenting to the Emergency Department (ED) with injuries and mental health crises related to family violence.
Family violence reports to police in the Stonnington local government area increased by 24 per cent from 2019-2020 and ED social worker Anna Ellis said more women had presented to ED due to family violence since the COVID pandemic began.
“In our ED, we have seen women who have been assaulted by their partners, vulnerable elderly patients experiencing abuse from adult children with mental health issues, and women abused by a partner who is also their carer. Family violence can include physical, emotional, financial, and or sexual abuse,” Anna said.
The ED social workers are trained to help people experiencing family violence by assessing risk and supporting victim-survivors to plan for their safety.
“The ED can provide a safe environment for victim-survivors to access the services they need,” Anna said.
“Everyone has the right to live safely and free from violence. The whole emergency department team is on board and takes responsibility for helping people get the support they need.”
Many managers and staff across the health service have undergone family violence training, and can offer assistance to staff and patients experiencing family violence. Other support options include:
- Talk to your GP
- Call 000 if you’re at risk
- Call Safe Steps (1800 015 188)
- Call 1800 RESPECT
- Come to an emergency department
“A significant number of health employees experience family violence in their personal life, and staff should know they’re not alone,” Anna said.
Family Violence Project Co-ordinator Kellie Muir said family violence can present anywhere across the health service - from cardiac to sub-acute.
“Our social workers and frontline staff do an amazing job to support victim-survivors in their journey, and we provide education, training and support to clinical staff," she said.
“We have seen family violence statistics rise over the past two years, and complexity and risk have also increased. We know that family violence deaths rarely occur without warning, so we must continue this important work and minimise future risk of harm to adults and children.”