Midwives and some other health professionals are perfectly placed to identify women experiencing violence, an academic has said.
Dr Kathleen Baird, senior midwifery lecturer at Griffith University, said dealing with domestic violence is a complex problem. “Sometimes it might be easier just to ignore the problem than address [it], but we have to stop and realise that domestic violence is a massive public health concern.”
She said when referral pathways are developed and midwives are given in-depth training and chances to increase their knowledge, they feel empowered to ask women about domestic violence.
She pointed to her earlier research, the Bristol Pregnancy and Domestic Violence Programme in the UK, which demonstrated a seven-fold increase in disclosure rate when midwives were trained and routinely enquired about domestic violence during pregnancy.
1800RESPECT is a national sexual assault and domestic and family violence counselling service available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The phone number is 1800 737 732.
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