Training to make society a safer space for women 

10 August 2020

The stats are simply shocking when it comes to violence against women.

“Generally the research is that one in four women is experiencing domestic and family violence,’’ said Dr Kristina Birchmore, manager of Women’s Safety Strategy at Adelaide’s Women’s and Children’s Health Network (WCHN).

The Women’s Health Service also saw a rise in strangulations of women in May, with 32 cases assessed, triaged and treated. This is up from 14 cases in April and 18 in March. There were 36 cases in February.

“In March COVID-19 restrictions were enforced, many employees worked from home. If women were in interpersonal violent relationships, it would have been difficult to access domestic violence services. If partners were home more, they could monitor their moves,’’ said Ruth Steer, acting manager of the Port Adelaide-based Women’s Health Service, also part of the Women’s and Children’s Health Network (WCHN).
“We saw strangulation presentations drop in March and April while working from home was encouraged during COVID-19. And then we noticed back in May when those (COVID-19 pandemic) restrictions lifted and people went back to work, women reconnected with our services, and the strangulation treatments went up to 32.’’

Ms Steer suspects women were more able to access support once their partners were out of the house.
 
In order to address the problem of violence against women, the WCHN has adopted an international evidence-based best practice guideline centred on women experiencing abuse and the development of a screening tool, “Ask, Assess, Respond to Domestic Violence”, to identify at-risk women.

“Woman Abuse” is the third Best Practice Guideline implemented across the WCHN to complete the site’s transition to become an ANMF (SA Branch) Best Practice Spotlight Organization (BPSO) and has already seen a substantial increase in women seeking help from appropriate services.

For more information on this initiative, a story will be run in our upcoming October edition of INPractice magazine, showcasing the work and outcomes the WCHN has seen.

The WCHN is continuing to offer training on their Ask, Assess and Respond Best Practice program and more information on this can be accessed by contacting Anita Minkus, Nurse Consultant, of the Nursing & Midwifery Clinical Practice Development Unit at Anita.minkus@sa.gov.au

If you are experiencing domestic and family violence call:

•    1800 RESPECT: Ph 1800 737 732
•    Women’s Health Service (Mon-Fri) Ph: 8444 0700
•    Domestic Violence Outreach clinics: Nurse Practitioner led, based at Yarrow Place Ph: 8226 8777