‘Family-Centred’ versus ‘Woman-Centred’ Care: screening for violence in antenatal care

November 12, 2018

The upcoming 2018 STOP Domestic Violence Conference will be held at QT, Gold Coast next month over 3 and 4 December with optional workshops on 5 December. 

Joining us at the conference is Ms Jenny Chapman, Project Manager, Strengthening Hospital Responses to Family Violence Project with the Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne who will present on ‘‘Family-Centred’ versus ‘Woman-Centred’ Care: screening for violence in antenatal care’.


The Royal Women’s Hospital (“The Women’s”) is a specialist women’s hospital and a leader in the provision of state-wide specialist maternity care, delivering over 9,000 babies per year in Melbourne’s northwest, and at its bayside campus in Sandringham. Recognising that violence against women is a health issue, the prevention of violence against women has been a strategic priority of The Women’s for many years. In 2016, Victoria’s Royal Commission into Family Violence made 227 recommendations for Family Violence system reform. Recommendation 95 directed that by December 2017 all publicly-funded antenatal clinics in Victoria should routinely screen for family violence.

By the end of 2017 routine family violence screening was embedded in The Women’s at Sandringham. Although the implementation of FV screening at Sandringham has been achieved, optimal screening practice remains elusive, a key barrier being the gaining of private access to women-only consultation time in the antenatal setting. An evaluation audit completed at Sandringham 3 months after implementation of antenatal screening for family violence clearly indicated that a partner’s presence at appointments was the main barrier to screening (62%).

Best practice clearly states that in order to ensure their safety women must be screened for violence when they are alone (World Health Organisation, 2013). Although dedicated consultation time, or “woman-centred care” has long been standard practice in women’s sexual and reproductive health clinics, it has emerged as a key practical issue in busy antenatal clinics. It also poses a philosophical problem in the context of an embedded culture of “family-centred practice” in maternity care. In the context of family violence, screening in maternity settings presents challenges regarding ‘what to do with partners’.

This paper will present local and international good practice research in FV screening in the antenatal setting, including lessons and challenges related to ensuring women-centred care and safety.


Jenny Chapman is the Project Manager for Strengthening Hospital Responses to Family Violence (SHRFV) project at The Women’s Hospital in Melbourne. Jenny is a Social Worker with almost two decades of experience in health, in clinical, project and management roles. Jenny is the project lead for antenatal screening at The Women’s.

For further information and to book tickets for the 2018 STOP Domestic Violence Conference please visit www.stopdomesticviolence.com.au


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