MILDURA Base Hospital (MBH) has joined a host of North West Victorian hospitals playing a more active in breaking the silence around family violence, while working to minimise the financial and personal toll on community health.

In recognition of the seriousness and complexity of the issue, Ramsay Health Care and MBH, in partnership with Robinvale and District Health Service and Mallee Track Health and Community Service, will implement the Strengthening Hospital Responses to Family Violence (SHRFV) program over the next two years.

MBH CEO, Julia Morgan, PICTURED LEFT said family violence was a significant health issue impacting heavily on the Mildura community.

“Family violence is Victoria’s largest preventable cause of early death, disability and illness in women under 45,” she said. “The focus of the Victorian Government-funded SHRFV program is on educating and supporting health professionals to identify and respond appropriately to family violence.”

Ms Morgan said the project came from recommendations of the 2015 Royal Commission into Family Violence, which identified that hospitals are an early contact point for many people who have experienced family violence.

“Health professionals are in a unique position to identify early indicators, have sensitive conversations with patients and provide support,” she said.

Newly appointed Project Manager, Deidre Reid, PICTURED RIGHT, has joined the hospital to lead the implementation of the program, which is already being rolled out in metropolitan hospitals.

Ms Reid said the program drew on significant research that recognises family violence is preventable only by addressing gender inequality as the key driver of violence against women.

“We acknowledge that gender inequality is a root cause of family violence and that we have a role to play in championing equality across our service and the community,” Ms Reid said. “Our vision is a future where our community is free from family violence and where healthy, respectful relationships are the norm.

“As a hospital we can make a significant contribution to achieving this vision and contribute to changing behaviours and community attitudes through our clinical practices, education and advocacy programs.”