Sustainability of identification and response to family violence in antenatal care

Project summary RP.17.05

The SUSTAIN study

This project aims to understand and support the integration of evidence-based, effective screening, risk assessment and first-line response to domestic violence (DV) into the complex system of antenatal care. It will build on existing resources and research, to focus on women assessed as currently in "lower risk" situations, who are often not in contact with DV services but attend health services for pregnancy. Domestic violence (DV) screening in antenatal care is recommended by the World Health Organization: this screening aims to identify women at risk of DV, many of whom are in ongoing relationships with the perpetrator. In New South Wales, screening has occurred since 2003 with variability of screening rates and quality, while in Victoria providers will be mandated to screen using the Common Risk Assessment and Management Framework from 2018. This provides a unique opportunity to learn from the two states’ different antenatal experiences about what works, for whom, and in what context. The project aims to answer the following questions:

  1. How can we integrate and sustain screening, risk assessment and first-line response to domestic violence effectively into the complex health system of antenatal care?
  2. How can we overcome the specific challenges for health systems in regional and rural settings with low resources?


Project lead

Prof Kelsey Hegarty, University of Melbourne

Research expertise

  1. Dr Joanne Spangaro, University of New South Wales
  2. Prof Jane Koziol-Mclain, Auckland University of Technology
  3. Ms Elizabeth McLindon, Royal Women's Hospital

Practice expertise

  1. Dr Sue Matthews, Royal Women's Hospital
  2. Dr Angela Crombie, Bendigo Health
  3. Ms June Dyson, Echuca Regional Health
  4. Ms Kate Gentle, Southern NSW Local Health District
  5. Ms Lorena Matthews, South Eastern Sydney Local Health District
  6. Ms Ly Johnson, Western Sydney Local Health District

Priority populations

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse women, women who live in rural and remote areas (as a focus).

Project length

2+ years