A new domestic violence campaign focusing on children will be launched later today at Westmead Children’s Hospital in Sydney by the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and Australian of the Year Rosie Batty.
The AMA says more needs to be done to increase the visibility of children who are victims of domestic violence, as some children suffer lifetime consequences from injuries.
The campaign is also encouraging people experiencing violence to speak to their GP.
“Unfortunately as a neurosurgeon, I see every day the trauma that is caused by domestic violence when it’s inflicted on children in terms of head injuries and other injuries as well,” AMA president Professor Brian Owler said.
The Children’s Hospital sees an average of 20 children with head injuries admitted to ER departments each year, with about 10 being serious injuries.
The hospital has a team dedicated to treating children whose injuries stem from domestic violence.
Professor Owler said nationally there were about 50,000 cases of child abuse investigated each year and substantiated.
“This is something that takes up an enormous amount of resources in terms of our paediatric hospitals, not just [the] children’s hospital at Westmead, but across the country,” he told the ABC.
“My colleagues at the Children’s Hospital deal with this on a daily basis.”
Professor Owler said children often presented to the hospital with bleeding of the brain and injuries to delicate organs such as the eyes, and broken bones.
“These have lifetime consequences that many times injuries people don’t recover from, let alone the psychological injuries that are inflicted through domestic violence as well,” he said, adding that some children had spent months in intensive care units and rehabilitation facilities.
Another part of the campaign is to educate doctors on referral pathways for patients experiencing domestic violence.
One in five women experiencing domestic violence will first report it to their GP.
The AMA said domestic violence was not necessarily related to lower socio-economic circumstance, but could happen in any family.
Rosie Batty’s 11-year-old son Luke Batty was killed by his father in February 2014.
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