Doctors Campaign for Australia’s First Domestic Violence Trauma Recovery Centre

Violence against women is expected to cost the Australian economy $22 billion a year in medical costs, time taken off work and the impact that has on other people. It’s an enormous problem and currently in Australia, there is no dedicated recovery service. Now, a group of doctors are advocating for Australia’s first domestic violence trauma recovery centre.

Family doctors are more likely to see the results of family and domestic violence than any other professional. They have a key role to play in early intervention and treatment. The trusted role of the family doctor gives GPs clear insight into the damage caused by violence.

The health effects in both the immediate victims and their families can be devastating and can persist long after the violence ceases. Children who grow up witnessing and experiencing domestic violence can also be profoundly affected.

The group, Doctors Against Violence Towards Women, have informally collaborated through social media and have banded together in a bid for government support of a centre in Illawarra. The centre will provide bespoke, ongoing and free services that would be groundbreaking in Australia.

“There are a lot of evidence-based practices and strategies like neuroplasticity around hypnotherapy for women who have experienced trauma,” said Sally Stevenson, General Manager at Illawarra Women’s Centre.

“They aren’t readily available in Australia and we want to be a place where women can access those treatments.”

It’s estimated that the Centre will support 400 domestic violence survivors annually. It will take a long-term approach to recovery, helping to break the intergenerational cycle of violence. Initial costs for the Centre are estimated to be $800,000 with annual running costs of around $1.5 million.

Chief economist at the Australia Institute Richard Dennis has backed the campaign, suggesting that it makes economic sense to create a holistic service dedicated to trauma recovery. In the case of Illawarra, domestic violence costs on average $259 million per year, therefore the Centre would be an excellent investment.

The Illawarra Domestic Violence Trauma Recovery Centre is a model that can be replicated elsewhere should it see positive results.

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