Helping family violence victims


The North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) is on a mission to protect and support patients experiencing family violence through its innovative program, Primary Care Pathways to Safety.

This program equips general practice staff with the necessary tools to provide trauma-informed care to victim-survivors.

Funded by the federal government Department of Health and Aged Care, the program offers tailored training to GPs, practice nurses, practice managers, and reception staff. The aim is to enable them to effectively assist patients disclosing intimate partner violence or other forms of domestic abuse. Support ranges from providing information on local services to alerting emergency organisations for immediate protection.

Developed in collaboration with the University of Melbourne’s Safer Families Centre of Research Excellence, which developed targeted training protocols, the program began in 2019, with funding provided to 30 practices across Melbourne’s north and west for training and resources.

One of the 30 practices is the Deer Park Medical Centre. Practice manager Namarata Malhotra said GPs take on a multifaceted role in addressing family violence.

“Beyond merely identifying signs of abuse, they serve as frontline advocates, offering compassionate support, and actively facilitating connections between affected patients and the essential resources and services needed to navigate and overcome such challenging situations.,” Ms Malhotra said.

’’… Our approach encompasses confidential consultations, where individuals can openly discuss their experiences in a safe and non-judgmental environment. Additionally, we offer tailored referrals to specialised services, ensuring that patients receive the specific assistance they require. Furthermore, our dedicated team coordinates ongoing care, guiding patients through their journey towards healing and empowerment.’’

NWMPHN is now in the process of recruiting another 30 practices to undertake the training.