Australian of the year, Rosie Batty, and the Australian Medical Association have launched a new domestic violence campaign designed to raise awareness about the number of children that suffer physical injuries as a result of domestic violence. The campaign is also focused on educating the community at large, and the medical community, about the impact of family violence on children and how medical professionals can assist patients experiencing domestic violence. To learn more about the campaign, please read below.
Rosie Batty, AMA launch campaign focusing on child victims of domestic violence
A new domestic violence campaign focusing on children has been launched at Westmead Children’s Hospital in Sydney by the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and Australian of the Year Rosie Batty.
The AMA says more needs to be done to increase the visibility of children who are victims of domestic violence, as some children suffer lifetime consequences from injuries.
The campaign is also encouraging people experiencing violence to speak to their GP.
“Unfortunately as a neurosurgeon I see every day the trauma that is caused by domestic violence when it’s inflicted on children in terms of head injuries and other injuries as well,” AMA president Professor Brian Owler said.
The Children’s Hospital sees an average of 20 children with head injuries admitted to ER departments each year, with about 10 being serious injuries.
The hospital has a team dedicated to treating children whose injuries stem from domestic violence.
Professor Owler said nationally there were about 50,000 cases of child abuse investigated each year and substantiated.
“This is something that takes up an enormous amount of resources in terms of our paediatric hospitals, not just [the] children’s hospital at Westmead, but across the country,” he said.
“My colleagues at the Children’s Hospital deal with this on a daily basis.”
Professor Owler said children often presented to the hospital with bleeding of the brain, injuries to delicate organs such as the eyes, and broken bones.
“These have lifetime consequences that many times injuries people don’t recover from, let alone the psychological injuries that are inflicted through domestic violence as well,” he said, adding that some children had spent months in intensive care units and rehabilitation facilities.
Another part of the campaign is to educate doctors on referral pathways for patients experiencing domestic violence. One in five women experiencing domestic violence will first report it to their GP.
The AMA said domestic violence was not necessarily related to lower socio-economic circumstance, but could happen in any family.
Ms Batty, whose 11-year-old son Luke was killed by his father in February 2014, told the launch the campaign was needed.
“Children’s voices are so not heard, we are so not listening to the plight of children who are caught up in family violence,” she said.
The domestic violence campaigner told medical professionals at the launch that it was apparent doctors were very much part of helping deal with the epidemic.
“One in three of your patients coming through into your medical practice, emergency area, hospital departments, one in three of those women will be affected by violence,” she said.
She added that one in four of the children they would deal with would also be affected by domestic violence.
The Australian of the Year also said doctors needed the resources to help respond.
“How do we respond, do we know how to respond? We may not be able to fix the situation but we need to know the part we can play,” she said.
“We need to know how to correctly refer and link our victims of violence into the specialised services so their risk assessment is done and their safety is monitored.”
If you or someone you know is needing support call 1800-RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
This article and image was first published on 23 October 2015, www.abc.net.au by By Thuy Ong and Sarah Hawke