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Domestic Family Violence refuge video showcases the success of an innovative program providing critical health care to women and children escaping domestic family violence

The Hunter New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network (HNECC PHN) has produced a brief video showcasing the success of the PHN’s pilot program, the Domestic and Family Violence Primary Care Outreach Team.

The program, currently based in three women’s and children's refuges on the Central Coast, has demonstrated sound health outcomes for the women and their children. The Primary Care Outreach team (consisting of a trauma informed General Practitioner, Nurse, Speech Pathologist and Maternal Child and Health Nurse) provide immediate essential health and assessment services to women and children residing in crisis refuge accommodation, linking them with the health and specialist supports they need to prevent lifelong impacts resulting from their physical and mental trauma.

The video featuring the Outreach Team, tells the inspiring story of one of the refuge’s mothers, who narrowly escaped death from an underlying health condition that was only picked up through the medical team onsite at the refuge.

The Outreach Team’s General Practitioner, Dr Colette Hourigan, said nothing prepared her for what she was going to see in the refuges. “We’re seeing women with very advanced and concerning health conditions that can put them at very high risk of death. One woman had a severe neck injury from a strangulation, through our service we were able to fast track an appointment with a vascular surgeon to ensure she wasn't at risk of further complications.

“We’ve identified a population who are very disadvantaged and marginalised and they cannot access health care, so I feel it’s very important that we advocate for funding to be able to continue providing services,” she said.

HNECC PHN’s Safe and Healthy Families Manager Shannon Richardson said the outreach pilot program identified many barriers to accessing health care for victim-survivors including other priorities in escaping from DFSV, but also increasing costs and waiting times to see GPs and specialists. “Some of the women seeking shelter through refuges are at risk of further harm from their perpetrator which makes the outreach team’s service even more important. By bringing the outreach team to the refuge, the women and their children can access the health care they desperately need, in safety.”

HNECC PHN Chief Executive Officer, Richard Nankervis said a key focus of the model is to spearhead early interventions and supports for babies and children to amend the profound effects of DFSV. “By investing in targeted, early interventions and supports, the program aims to alter a child’s life trajectory, so they avoid entering acute care as a result of the impacts of DFSV on their development.

“Our long-term vision for this program is to ensure every refuge victim and their children, have access to the basic health care that they need and deserve.”

The program is currently being presented to Federal Members of Parliament who have shown a great deal of support for the program.

Media Inquiries:
Rebecca Brennan, Communications and Public Relations Manager
rbrennan@thephn.com.au 0437 478 138

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October 27 2023

Supporting Recovery: A Pilot Program to Provide Trauma-Informed Recovery Care for Victim-Survivors of Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence.

The Hunter New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network invites service providers in the Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence (DFSV) (including child sexual abuse) and Mental Health sectors to attend an online information session.

Learn more about Supporting Recovery: A Pilot Program to Provide Trauma-Informed Recovery Care for Victim-Survivors of Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence.