Training frontline workers to recognise and respond to sexual violence
The Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (VIFM) and Department of Forensic Medicine have a 30-year partnership that brings together the research and teaching capabilities of Monash with the frontline forensic expertise of the VIFM. The partnership has developed Australia’s first accredited training program for frontline workers, ‘Recognising and Responding to Sexual Violence’. The training will translate national policy into practice by enhancing frontline workers’ skills to recognise and respond to adult experiences of sexual violence.
The national training program directly contributes to the implementation of the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2010-2022 by upskilling frontline workers, who are often at the coalface of responding to victims/survivors of sexual violence. The course curriculum – trauma-informed and person-centred – addresses the risk of vicarious trauma for frontline workers caring for these people. In particular, training focuses on how to respond to different vulnerable groups, including:
- People with intellectual disabilities
- People from culturally and linguistically diverse communities
- Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples
- People who identify as LGBTQIA+
- Older adults
- Sex workers
The curriculum is run in two streams; a Vocational Education for non-medical frontline workers, and a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) course accredited through the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners for doctors, nurses and midwives. The course has been developed by experts in sexual violence, and specialist forensic and medical experts to provide evidence-based information on what drives sexual violence, its prevalence, short- and long-term impacts on individuals and the community, and an overview of justice responses. It focuses on building practical skills for frontline workers to use during consultations and care, as well as informing about legal obligations and reporting responsibilities. The medical CPD training also provides practical guidance on how to medically care for and support individuals who may have experienced sexual violence.
The CPD training commenced in August 2021 and the vocational training, to be delivered in partnership with RMIT, will start in early 2022. This project has enabled Monash to partner with Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), which will independently evaluate the program for the Department of Social Services. As part of stakeholder consultation the project team has been fortunate to work with a range of national organisations, resulting in new opportunities for the Department across associated areas of research and teaching.
- Associate Professor David Wells - Department of Forensic Medicine, Monash University
- Dr Maaike Moller - Department of Forensic Medicine, Monash University
- Professor Richard Bassed - Head of Department of Forensic Medicine and Chief Investigator
- Dr Elizabeth Manning - Project Manager
- Ms Jen Ryan - Manager, Department of Forensic Medicine
- Associate Professor Lyndal Bugeja - Research Lead
- Ms Bianca Lang - Senior Project Officer
- Ms Anna Cartwright - Project Officer