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Doctors and nurses to train in helping rape victims

Healthcare workers to train in helping rape victim
Photo: Doctors to train in helping rape victims
In an Australia-first, healthcare and frontline workers will be trained to respond to disclosures of sexual violence in an accredited university-run course.

Doctors and nurses will be trained by experts in how to respond when patients disclose sexual violence, in an Australia-first course to launch next month.

The course, developed by Monash University, will be offered to hundreds of health workers, including in regional and rural areas, over the coming 18 months.

The training will teach workers how to identify risk factors for sexual violence and to respond to disclosures in appropriate and culturally sensitive ways.

Participants will also learn about the prevalence and drivers of sexual violence, and the impacts on individuals and the community.
The academic who led the development of the training, Associate Professor David Wells, said for many victims life never returns to normal after an assault.

"The physical, emotional and social impacts can be brutal and crippling, and the damage is not confined to the victim," he said in a statement.

"There can be long term negative impacts to the next generation, to communities, and wider society."

He said there had been a lot of work done to improve frontline workers' understanding of domestic abuse, but there was "limited awareness" of how to recognise and respond to disclosures of rape in ways that support recovery.

The course was developed courtesy of a $4.5 million grant from the federal government, part of a national action plan to reduce violence against women and children.

Minister for Women's Safety Anne Ruston said it was "vital" that disclosures of sexual violence were handled with care.

"This training arms healthcare professionals with that expertise," she said.

She said it was important that the training covers how to identify medical presentations and diagnoses that may be indicators of sexual violence, allowing medicos to intervene sooner and support victims.

The course has been accredited by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the College of Emergency Medicine and the College of Rural and Remote Medicine.

The first of its three six-hour units debuts next month and has already reached enrolment capacity.

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