Strengthening rural doctors’ capacity to address family violence

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The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) has developed a new Online Learning Module: the Rural Doctors’ Family and Domestic Violence Education Package. This education module draws on the experience of a national team of clinicians, and aims to strengthen doctors’ capacity to address family violence within their rural and remote practice community.

The education module is based on a series of clinically focused case-based discussions, with emphasis on providing best practice responses at both the individual and the community level.

“We developed this module to increase awareness of the impact that domestic and family violence can have on rural and remote communities,” says ACRRM President Associate Professor Ruth Stewart.

“It’s our role as leaders in rural health to highlight the issues, and to do all that we can to strengthen our members’ ability to respond effectively to domestic and family violence.”

The module has been developed by a national team of clinicians. Lead Clinician on the program, Dr Jennifer Delima, is a remote and rural GP based in Alice Springs, with further specialisation in clinical forensic and addiction medicine. She heads the Sexual Assault and Addiction Studies units in Central Australia.

Dr Delima says: “For rural and remote practitioners, the module will help them know how to provide holistic care for individual patients and the whole community.”

Dr Delima also believes this module helps to highlight the issue of domestic and family violence in communities where it’s needed most. She says: “There’s a lot of work happening in the cities in raising awareness for domestic and family violence, through marches and awareness campaigns, but the rural and remote areas are always the silent bystander.”

Reflecting the diversity of people who are affected by domestic violence in rural and remote communities, the module was developed by doctors across Australia, from locations such as Cooktown, Nhulunbuy, Alice Springs, Parkes, and Port Hedland.

The module addresses: identifying, understanding and managing domestic violence; understanding the community; demonstrating appropriate attitudes in practice; and understanding the role and responsibilities of the GP in helping patients affected by domestic violence.

It should take roughly six hours to complete. Doctors can enrol in the module via ACRRM's Online Learning platform.

The module was funded through the Australian Government Department of Health and developed specifically for online delivery through ACRRM.


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