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A training course to help professionals and frontline workers better recognise and respond to victims of sexual violence has been developed by Monash University.

The three unit course, run by the University’s Department of Forensic Medicine and consortia partner, the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (VIFM), is a six hour program run over a six week period through zoom and self-directed learning modules.

The University is providing the training pilot at no cost and is seeking expressions of interest from registered and practicing health practitioners providing primary healthcare services to undertake the course.

Consideration will be given to rural and remote practitioners and those whose practice catchment includes patients at higher risk of experiencing sexual violence. This may include:

  • patients with intellectual disabilities
  • patients from culturally and linguistically diverse communities
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • patients who identify as LGBTQIA+
  • older adults
  • adolescents
  • sex worker patients.

The training program is funded by the Commonwealth Department of Social Services (DSS) as an initiative under the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022.

The curriculum lead for this project, Associate Professor David Wells OAM, Senior Education Coordinator for Monash University’s Department of Forensic Medicine, said sexual violence was pervasive, destructive and criminal behaviour and impacts the lives of thousands of Australians every year.

“A large amount of my professional life has been spent assisting victims in the days and weeks after they have experienced such an assault, and for many victims, life never returns to normal,” Associate Professor Wells said.

“The physical, emotional and social impacts can be brutal and crippling, and the damage is not confined to the victim. There can be long term negative impacts to the next generation, to communities, and wider society.

“While there has been a lot of work done on improving frontline workers’ understanding of domestic and family violence, there is limited awareness of how to recognise and respond to disclosures of sexual violence in ways that support recovery.

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