New publication: Examining a rural Victorian community’s knowledge and help seeking behaviour for family violence and the role of the local public health service

  • Peter Kelly, Michael Field, Ruth Payne, Rebecca Giallo
  • Australian Journal of Rural Health. 2022 Jun 17. doi: 10.1111/ajr.12887. Online ahead of print. Read here.

The rates of family violence within some rural communities are higher than that of metropolitan areas. The extent to which these rural communities know about and access family violence support services is not well understood. Local health services often play a role in providing information and support for community members at risk of, or experiencing family violence. For a rural community in Victoria, this study aimed to:
(a) determine community members’ knowledge of family violence services
(b) explore community members’ help seeking behaviour for family violence
(c) identify perceived barriers and enabling factors to accessing family violence services and;
(d) explore community members’ expectations of, and preferences for, family violence support provided by local health services.
Using a mixed methods anonymous online survey, we found that the majority of respondents had been exposed to family violence, and there were varying knowledge levels of family violence support services. Identified barriers that directly impacted community members using family violence services included fear of being judged, and concerns about privacy and confidentiality. Identified enablers to accessing family violence support services included increasing the availability and accessibility of services, providing more support for men experiencing family violence, and increasing public awareness about family violence.
Rural health services are in a unique position to implement local strategies to prevent and respond to family violence. Evidence generated by this study will inform future strategic planning for family violence services and the local health service.