Family and domestic violence

Family and domestic violence guidelines

The Women's Health Clinical Support Programs has the mandate to maintain the 'Guidelines for Responding to Family and Domestic Violence' as well as the 'WA Department of Health Family and Domestic Violence Policy'. These have been informed by the Family and Domestic Violence Advisory Group, a group consisting of members from across various areas of WA Health who come together to share information.

The Guideline for Responding to Family and Domestic Violence support the development of models of care and provision of services that conform to a state-wide standard of practice.

The Guidelines were developed to provide health workers with an understanding of FDV, the impact it has on members of the family and the wider community, and to assist health workers to make safe and effective interventions with victims of violence and abuse, their children and other vulnerable people in the household.  It sets out principles of screening for violence and abuse and of intervention and provides standard information applicable to health professionals and clinical settings.

What is family and domestic violence?

Family and domestic violence (FDV) is a pattern of ongoing, repetitive and purposeful use of physical, emotional, social, financial and/or sexual abuse used to intimidate and instil fear. Such behaviour enables the one person to control and have power over another person in an ‘intimate’ or family relationship.

It is behaviour which results in physical, sexual and/or psychological damage, forced social isolation, economic deprivation, or behaviour which causes the victim to live in fear. The term is usually used where abuse and violence take place in intimate partner relationships including same sex relationships, between siblings, from adolescents to parents or from family carers to a relative or a relative with a disability.

A key characteristic of FDV is the use of violence or other forms of abuse to control someone with whom the person responsible has an intimate or family relationship. However, abusive behaviours may occur without the intention to control another, particularly in the case of neglect or a mental health issue.

FDV occurs amongst all groups in our society. It is an issue that is often hidden yet has a profound and lasting impact on the social, emotional, physical and financial wellbeing of many Western Australians. It affects all individuals, children and families, as well as whole communities and has intergenerational consequences.

There is significant evidence now to show that Family and Domestic Violence is a major public health issue in Australia.  Studies on FDV illustrate that abused women have increased health problems such as injury, chronic pain, mental health issues, gastrointestinal and gynaecological problems.   FDV is the single biggest cause of death, disability, and ill health for women under 45 years in Australia.

FDV can be a direct or underlying reason why people seek assistance from health services.  Early identification and intervention by the health system may reduce health problems associated with FDV and lead to better health outcomes for our clients.

For further information, resources and links, visit our family and domestic violence professional toolbox or sign up for our family and domestic violence training.