Brisbane South PHN news

RRR program funded to expand nationally

Complex health challenges demand sophisticated solutions.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that 29,000 people in Australia (excluding Western Australian and the Northern Territory) were hospitalised at least once for domestic and family violence (DFV) between 2010-11 and 2017-18.

The same report (as of 16 December 2021) found that 1 in 8 people who were hospitalised had at least one additional hospital stay as a result of DFV.

DFV is a multilayered health and wellbeing issue that has long been a priority for Brisbane South PHN; the COVID-19 pandemic has made our work in this space even more critical. In this edition of Primary Health Impact publication we are shining a spotlight on DFV, and on our groundbreaking Recognise, Respond, Refer (RRR) program that supports general practices working in primary care.

Recognise, Respond, Refer trains and assists general practices to identify and support people experiencing DFV through localised, place-based solutions that ensure no-one falls through the cracks. Over the past 4 years, we’ve trained primary health care workers, facilitated partnerships with social services and engaged all levels of government to secure funding for an expanded national rollout.

The RRR program works. Its success lies in addressing the problem of DFV as a primary health issue, with our pilot program in Brisbane south demonstrating measurable improvement in how General Practitioners (GPs) and general practice staff interact with patients and families experiencing violence and abuse, and how people are supported with follow-up services via single-point-of-referral specialists.

So far, 948 primary health professionals in our region have participated in training, including 475 GPs. Of these participants, 95% have reported increased confidence to support patients in need, with 337 general practices now set up to access DFV Local Link workers (specialist, single-point-of-referral workers who support practices and patients). A further 446 people experiencing DFV have been referred on to pathways to safety; 304 of these have been supported with onward referrals such as counselling, legal and crisis support. RRR is changing lives every day.

Further development work is underway to fine-tune the program, including expanding training and support for primary care workers to prevent and respond to child sex abuse, as well as overall responses suitable within the context of people’s specific culture and identity needs (i.e. First Nations, LGBTIQA+, disabled, multicultural and refugee peoples).

As a result of our successful pilot program and advocacy efforts, the Australian Government has recognised the value of implementing the RRR program within local communities and funded the expansion of a $48.7 million national trial across 5 national sites in the 2022-23 Budget. We warmly welcome this news. The challenges we face are huge but this program is a key part of a system-wide response to domestic and family violence; its expansion will save lives.

Brisbane South PHN led this fundamental shift to invest in early intervention and prevention, as primary health care workers are often an initial and consistent point of contact for people experiencing gendered violence, as well as people using violence and abuse.

I am tremendously proud to see our program expanded as part of a broader, systemic response to DFV, and grateful to all the health professionals turning it into a reality in general practices across the country. I hope you enjoy this edition of Primary Health Impact and encourage you to get in touch if you’d like to know more about what we’re doing to address health inequalities in the Brisbane South PHN region. I welcome your feedback as always.

Kind regards

Mike Bosel
Chief Executive Officer

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