Family violence screening in the acute health setting

Mrs Gretchen Scott1, Ms Kath Kerr2

1ThS- Social Work Services, Howrah, Australia, 2THS-Famliy Violence Counselling and Support Services, ,

Victims of Family Violence are high users of health services but are often not identified. This limits the capacity of health services to intervene and provide appropriate and effective health care. It can also lead to victims remaining isolated, being misdiagnosed and missed opportunities to prevent further injury or death to the woman and protection of children involved.

Hospital Emergency Departments  are crucial points in the health system for identifying and intervening early in Family Violence (also known as intimate partner violence).  Women use the ED as one of their primary health services when they are in a violent relationship, but are unlikely to disclose unless asked directly (Ramsden & Bonner, 2002).

Given the difficulties in identifying abused women within health services and the importance of identification in early intervention, the practice of routinely enquiring of all women about domestic violence has been widely advocated (Campbell, 2002).

The Family Violence Screening and Identification project aimed to improve the recognition and early intervention of family violence for patients attending the Emergency Department and the Assessment and Planning Unit of the Royal Hobart (RHH).


Kath has worked in area of FV for 20 years primarily managing the Family Violence Counselling & Support Service. FVCSS provide immediate emotional support, risk & safety assessment, information on nature of FV, referrals & advocacy.The delivery of training on family violence has been a feature of Kath’s work history.

Gretchen Scott is the Clinical Lead Social Worker for WACS at RHH.She has worked for a number of years as a FV Trainer and is passionate about the role of the Health Service in identifying and responding to victims of FV.

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