GPs overlooked in draft plan to end family violence

Matt Woodley

28/03/2022 5:03:22 PM

The RACGP has criticised the omission, pointing out that survivor-victims seek help from GPs more than any other professional group.

Female domestic violence abuse survivor
Evidence shows GPs are often the first person a victim-survivor will disclose abuse to.

Many families will not be reached for early intervention unless there is a key focus on GPs in the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children, the RACGP has warned.
The warning featured in a college submission to the Draft National Plan to end Violence Against Women and Children 2022–2032, which is pursuing a ‘towards zero’ approach to family violence focused on prevention, early intervention, response and recovery.
However, while early intervention is listed as one of the plan’s four key pillars, GPs are only mentioned in passing alongside other frontline services including the police, justice system, and educators.
Given victim-survivors disclose to GPs more than any other professional group – including police – RACGP President Dr Karen Price says general practice must be included in the Plan.
‘As one of the only practitioners that provides ongoing, holistic care to a patient throughout their life, GPs are uniquely placed to help people experiencing abuse and violence,’ she said.
‘The evidence shows GPs are often the first person a victim-survivor will disclose to … because people know and trust their GP.
‘It’s also because GPs are trained to notice when something isn’t right, so we can recognise the signs and start a conversation with a patient, which is often the first step.
‘As such, there should be a key focus on GPs in the National Plan to end Violence Against Women and Children.
‘Without this, many families will not be reached at the early intervention stage.’
GPs already have access to evidence-based guidelines to support care for patients experiencing family and domestic abuse and violence, called the White Book. The college is also working with the Safer Families Centre to rollout training for GPs nationally.
However, the college submission states that investment to date is ‘less than what is required’ to properly upskill GPs in this space.
Dr Price says supporting existing initiatives with increased assistance for general practice and expanded access to Medicare patient rebates would improve access to early intervention and care.
‘When it comes to supporting victim-survivors, GPs provide comprehensive care, including managing the physical and mental health consequences, as well as referring patients to relevant support services,’ she said.
‘GPs also see members of the same family – we’re often the only health professional seeing both the victim-survivor, perpetrator and their children. So, GPs also play an important ongoing role in assessing and managing violence and safety within families.
‘Increased support for general practice, through ongoing education and peer support groups, will greatly assist GPs to identify and safely work with victim-survivors, children, and perpetrators as well as other domestic violence services.
‘The [Federal] Government also needs to expand access to Medicare patient rebates, so care is more accessible for those who need it.’
The RACGP President also said existing barriers to care could easily be removed if the criteria for General Practitioner Management Plans (GPMPs) were expanded to include those experiencing family violence.
‘Victim-survivors and their families would also benefit from access to Medicare patient rebates for longer consultations, so they can take the time needed to have a conversation with their GP and talk about their concerns,’ Dr Price said.
‘These simple changes will mean more people can access the care and support they need when they need it – it’ll make a big difference for individuals and families.’
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Dr Henry Arthur Berenson   29/03/2022 11:37:51 AM

Was it an omission or is this how bureaucracy works?