Once a mother escaping family violence and now member of the Victim Survivors' Advisory Council, Dr Keri Alexander welcomes funding to train Maternal and Child Health nurses in supporting mothers experiencing family violence.
In an Australian first, the Victorian Government's $11 million funding boost will go towards MCH nurses to give up to 12,000 hours of additional support and outreach visits to those at risk of family violence.
'I speak from experience as a mother who had to flee family violence with young children after the birth of a baby,' Dr Alexander says.
'Preventing family violence in the earliest stages of life dramatically changes the outlook of parents and children's futures.'
'Maternal Child Health workers already do an amazing service, and they are in a unique position to be able to identify and offer initial support to mothers, infants and children experiencing violence.'
Dr Alexander is a medical practitioner with more than 20 years' experience as both a GP and drug and alcohol specialist doctor. She has worked closely with midwives and Maternal Health Nurses.
She says family violence does not discriminate.
'Unfortunately, one in five women report intimate partner violence during the first year after giving birth,' Dr Alexander says.
'We need our health workers who care for mothers and young children to be able to respond quickly and appropriately to instances of family violence.'
'All babies and children deserve to be safe, regardless of their parents' race, religion, education, sexuality or financial situation.'
Support and training for MCH nurses
MCH nurses will be provided with professional development and support so they can confidently discuss family violence with parents, assess risk, and respond in a timely and meaningful way.
Discussing family violence can be difficult due to the presence of a partner or lack of time. Additional consultations will allow discussions to take place at a time and place that suits the mother and her kids.
The funding is part of our landmark $202.1 million
Education State Early Childhood Reform Plan. The Plan is delivering better services to parents with young children, as well as improved early intervention for kids who need extra support.
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