Preparing the next generation of paramedics to recognise, treat and refer victims of family violence
Family violence is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity in Australia that disproportionately impacts women and children. The impact of family violence is broad and not limited to physical injury through assault; it is believed that the vast majority of health complaints stemming from family violence are stress-related and mental health presentations. Family violence is a common and highly damaging occurrence. Paramedics commonly see patients (but may not recognise) experiencing family violence and a wide variety of physical and mental health complaints. The role of paramedics in responding to family violence centres on recognising the signs, asking about family violence in a competent, empathetic and confident manner, and helping patients access care and support. The response of paramedics has the potential to influence whether or not this violence and abuse continues. Therefore students must be appropriately prepared as the next generation of paramedic change agents. Presently, no educational packages offer face-to-face skills practice with family violence expert trainers specific for paramedicine. Evidence suggests that paramedics want to practise skills with experts and that feeling unskilled is a crucial barrier to discussing violence with victims. Therefore, there is an opportunity to develop a family violence training package (inclusive of both face-to-face and online) specific to the needs and requirements of paramedics studying at Monash University. This package will support the training of family violence educators within the Department of Paramedicine and will embed this program within the curriculum for all current and future students.