Doctor Resources and Guides

Supporting Patients Experiencing Family Violence

Medical practitioners have a key role to play in early detection, intervention and treatment of their patients who have experienced domestic violence.


The AMA/Law Council of Australia document Supporting Patients Experiencing Family Violence describes how to identify and respond to patients who have experienced or are experiencing family violence. It contains information about specialist support services, including health, mental health, drug and alcohol, legal, family support and child protection services.


Note for SA Doctors: the sections in this resource that relate to SA legislation are currently under review, due to recent legislative changes underway in South Australia. 

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Victim Support Services

The National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service website 1800 RESPECT offers family violence and sexual assault counselling, including a full translation service for people seeking information for themselves, family, friends or patients. It is a free, confidential service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 1800 737 732 to speak to a professional counsellor.

The White Ribbon webpage provides a list of national and state based support organisations that assist people who are experiencing domestic and family violence.

Kids Helpline is a free, private and confidential, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25. Call 1800 551 800, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Lifeline provides crisis support services. Call 131 114, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Mensline Australia provides telephone and online support, information and a referral service. Mensline provides counselling support for men to help deal with relationship problems in a practical and effective way, and also provides specialist support to those who are experiencing family and domestic violence. Read more about this support on or call 1300 789 978.

The Family Relationship Advice Line provides information and advice on family relationship issues and parenting arrangements after separation. It can also refer callers to local services that can provide assistance. Call 1800 050 321 between 8 am and 8 pm, Monday to Friday, or 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday local time, except national public holidays.



The Doctors Priority Line1300 575 847, is a 24/7 free telephone interpreting service to assist medical practitioners to communicate with patients from non-English speaking backgrounds.


Further Reading  

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners – Abuse and violence: working with our patients in general practice, 4th edition, (the White Book). This manual offers general practitioners evidence-based guidance on appropriate identification and response in clinical practices to patients experiencing abuse and violence.

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners – Putting prevention into practice: guidelines for the implementation of prevention in the general practice setting (the Green Book). This manual provides practical strategies to put in place to respond to situations where domestic violence is suspected (see page 59)

World Health Organisation – Responding to intimate partner violence and sexual violence against women: WHO clinical and policy guidelines. This document provides guidelines to healthcare providers on how to respond to intimate partner violence and sexual violence against women.

Intimate partner violence: Identification and response in general practice. Reprinted from Australian Family Physician Vol. 40, No. 11, November 2011. This article discusses identifying partner violence in women who present to general practice.


Domestic violence in Australia:

  • Every week, a woman dies at the hands of a current or former partner

  • One woman in three has experienced physical violence, since the age of 15

  • One woman in four has experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner

  • One woman in five has experienced sexual violence

  • Young women (18 – 24 years) experience significantly higher rates of physical and sexual violence than women in older age groups

  • Indigenous women experience disproportionately high levels of family violence

  • Women with a disability are more likely to experience violence. Ninety per cent of women with an intellectual disability have been subjected to sexual abuse

  • Intimate partner violence  is the leading contributor to ill-health and premature death in women under 45, more than any other well-known risks including high blood pressure, obesity and smoking

  • Almost one in four children have witnessed violence against their mother or stepmother

  • Approximately 1 in twenty five men has experienced violence by a partner since the age of 15

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