‘Our responses really matter’: WSLHD hosts coercive control panel during Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month

Please note, this article tackles serious issues and may be triggering for some readers.

If you need support, you can reach the Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) community health team on 1800 011 511. More information about WSLHD’s mental health services can be viewed here. You can also contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Westmead Hospital has hosted a powerful event focused on the vital role of the healthcare system and its workers in identifying and responding to coercive control.

May is Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month and to raise awareness the Integrated Violence Prevention & Response Service (IVPRS) of Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) held an interactive presentation and panel discussion.

Experts across different sectors were engaged as panel members:

  • Gladys Amal – Solicitor Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Family Law Team at Western Sydney Legal Service
  • Glenys Griffiths- Clinical Director Medical & Forensic PARVAN Services, Northern Sydney Local Health District
  • Narelle Mahboub – Manager Case work with the Western Sydney Nepean Blue Mountains Family Violence Service
  • Hanan Hamza – Child Wellbeing Coordinator, WSLHD

IVPRS provides a coordinated response to violence, abuse and neglect issues including coercive control, which is a repeated pattern of behaviours designed to strip someone of their sense of autonomy and self-worth with the aim of establishing control over them.

This event was an important opportunity for healthcare workers to engage with experts on coercive control and build knowledge on the important and evolving intersection between health, law, and the criminal justice system.

The audience was moved by a powerful statement from a victim survivor discussing their personal experience and listened to informative presentations and a passionate panel discussion before being given an opportunity for participation through a Q&A session.

IVPRS Violence, Abuse and Neglect Therapeutic Specialist Emma Searle emceed the event and in her opening emphasised the important role of the healthcare system in responding to domestic and family violence.

“Most people access health services at some point in their lifetime,” Emma said.

“As the provider of universal services, health is in a unique position to identify and respond to domestic and family violence.

“Violence and abuse can impact how victim survivors of violence engage with health services and their responsiveness to treatment.

And for this reason, our responses really matter.

Emma Searle

IVPRS Domestic Violence counsellor Savvina Tsoungranis went on to share some sobering statistics about intimate partner and family violence before calling attention to the responsibly of not only the healthcare system but its workers.

It is a health issue, and it’s highly likely that health workers will need to identify and respond to coercive control at some point in their personal or professional lives.

Savvina Tsoungranis

Throughout the event WSLHD staff were given informed advice on what coercive control is and how to build their confidence in both identifying and responding to violence, abuse and neglect issues.

Coercive control is often hard to identify and can have a devastating impact on people’s lives. This initiative from the IVPRS was an important step to raise awareness, build confidence and provide knowledge to western Sydney healthcare workers.

If you’re experiencing abuse, want to support someone else, or you’re hurting someone you care about – there is help available.

If you’re in immediate danger, call Triple Zero (000) and ask for Police.

If you or someone you know is experiencing violence or abuse contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 for 24/7 support.

If you are worried your behaviour is hurting someone you care about, contact the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491 for free, confidential and anonymous support.

For more information about the WSLHD Integrated Violence and Response Service, please click here.