Family Violence is a health issue: UNHS response to family violence in Victoria

Ms Julie Castro1

 1Victorian Infant Hearing Screening Program – Royal Children’s Hospital, Parkville, Australia


In 2018, The Australian Institute of Health and welfare reported that intimate partner violence is the most significant health risk factor for women aged 25 – 44, with one in four women having experienced family violence.  In response to the Royal Commission into family violence, Victorian health networks have formalised their response to family violence experienced by both patients and employees.

The Victorian Infant Hearing Screening Program (VIHSP) hearing screeners and area managers meet over 400 women a day across Victoria, working in 40 health networks and at over 65 locations. The VIHSP work force is predominantly women.

The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) in Melbourne, which administers VIHSP, established a family violence working group that created family violence training opportunities and resources.  VIHSP prioritised family violence training as part of the mandatory bi-annual professional development seminars held in Melbourne for all VIHSP staff.

VIHSP staff were provided family violence training and were provided resources for responding to family violence and providing support for Employees and families. Operational managers created a family violence resource at each hearing screening office for staff use. Kept in a public space in the office, it highlighted the local resources within the region and how to utilise family violence leave.

Following implementation of family violence training VIHSP saw an increase in utilisation of the family violence leave and interest from managers on how about how to better support their team and patients. Given the success of these initiatives, VIHSP recommends UNHS programs undertake family violence training to support the work of the health networks to prioritise and respond to family violence.


Julie Castro is a Senior Area Manager with the Victorian Infant Hearing Screening Program. Julie has a background in psychology and sociology, with a keen interest in how work place culture translates into work place practice. The Victorian Infant Hearing Screening Program (VIHSP) screens the hearing of newborn babies in their first weeks of life. The program aims to promote early detection and intervention to improve outcomes for babies with hearing loss.