GPs boost skills in helping people experiencing family violence

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Royal Australian College of GPs

The Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) is encouraging Victorian GPs to boost their skills and expertise helping people experiencing family violence.

It comes following the College re-launching its Family Violence GP Education Program, which is available to all Victorian GPs. The first sessions of the program commence this month.

RACGP Victoria Chair, Dr Anita Munoz, urged all GPs across the state to sign up.

“More must be done to address family violence,” she said.

“We know for women aged 18 to 44, intimate partner violence contributes to more burden of disease than any other risk factor, and estimates suggest full-time GPs may see up to five women per week who have experienced some form of intimate partner abuse in the past year. GPs play a vital role, with one in five women first disclosing their experience of domestic violence to a GP.

“So, we are relaunching this program with new case studies, including cases of coercive control. Coercive control was present in Hannah Clark’s relationship before the devastating murder of Hannah and her children Aaliyah, six, Laianah, four, and Trey, three, in Brisbane in 2020. Coercive control is something that all GPs need to be mindful of, and this program will help them identify and act on it.”

Dr Munoz also praised the program’s design and focus.

“The program is available via online and flexible formats to reach GPs in all corners of Victoria,” she said.

“Many GPs do a tremendous job helping people experiencing family violence; however, we should always strive to do more. Our program increases awareness and understanding of the prevalence and impact of family and domestic violence, boosts knowledge and skills in recognising when it is occurring and provides strategies for responding to individuals experiencing violence including safety planning and referral pathways.

“Our aim is to do all we can to foster a supportive approach to care for those experiencing this violence, with a strong focus on empathy, confidentiality, and empowerment. So, we want GPs to spread the word to their colleagues and sign up.

“There is so much to learn including the legal responsibilities GPs have under family violence protection legislation. It features trained and experienced practitioners leading Peer Group Learning sessions featuring insights and practical examples including coercive control. There are also eLearning modules available to complement the Peer Group Learning sessions, providing participants with essential guidance on identifying and responding to family violence.

“The knowledge-sharing meetings will provide valuable opportunities for GPs to enhance their skills and confidence. Other sessions will deepen understanding by exploring authentic clinical scenarios including real cases and facilitate greater dialogue and knowledge sharing so that participants can learn from each other and talk about current issues and trends.”

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