EXTERNALLY FUNDED RESEARCH PROJECTS
What is a rural health service’s role in supporting community members impacted by family violence?
The Strengthening Hospital Responses to Family Violence (SHRFV) initiative has been operating in the Barwon region of Victoria since early 2018. The initiative aims to build the capacity of Victorian hospitals and health services to identify and respond to family violence. The Barwon region (for the SHRFV initiative) comprises the following public health services:
• Barwon Health
• Colac Area Health
• Hesse Rural Health
• Great Ocean Road Health
Capacity-building work within these health services includes policy and procedure development, education (online and face to face), information and resource development, relationship building with specialist family violence services and internal support mechanisms for staff and volunteers.
The Barwon SHRFV provides anecdotal evidence that there are differences in the lived experience of family violence for those living in metropolitan and urban areas compared to regional and remote areas. While there is a substantial body of research focused on metropolitan areas around the lived experience of family violence, research focused on smaller regional townships is limited. With this in mind the researchers wanted to focus on a specific Victorian regional community to identify how the issue of family violence is understood, and help-seeking behaviours and knowledge of supports available. Central to this was a desire to identify what the community expectations were (if any) of the local health service around providing support for family violence.
The catchment area for this study covers two Victorian postcodes (3249 and 3250), with Colac being the largest town within this area. Colac is located in the Western District of Victoria and is serviced by Colac Area Health.
The purpose of this study is to build a picture of a smaller regional community’s attitudes and expectations around accessing information and support for family violence on a general level as well as the role of the local health service in providing family violence support.
The research team (composed of a family violence practitioner and senior researcher/psychologist) designed an online survey tool fit for purpose. The survey is currently being conducted and is due to be completed in March 2021. The survey has been disseminated to a range of stakeholder groups within the Colac region for on-sending to their members, service users or supporters. This may be through their newsletters, websites or social media. After March, online survey results will be collated and key findings presented in a research paper.