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AMA details health implications of domestic violence and sexual assault against women

5 March 2014

The Australian Medical Association has released an updated Position Statement on Women’s Health, which includes the impact that domestic violence and sexual assault has on women’s health.

“Domestic and sexual violence are significant public health issues, and have serious and long-term detrimental consequences for women’s health, AMA Victoria Board member, Dr Lorraine Baker, said.

Across Australia, it is estimated that more than half the female population have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes. The correlation between domestic violence and poor physical and mental health of women has been consistently demonstrated in Australian and international studies.

“Domestic and sexual violence have a major impact on mental health, and can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, suicidal acts and substance misuse. They are also closely associated with poor physical health, which includes serious injury, chronic pain, gastro-intestinal disorders and gynaecological problems, Dr Baker said.

Under the AMA’s updated Position Statement on Women’s Health:

  • The AMA acknowledges the widespread underreporting of domestic violence perpetrated against women and by women (to other women and to men). It supports ongoing programs to make reporting of such violence easier, and in so doing start processes to gain help to make domestic circumstances safer for all.
  • The role and extent of domestic violence, as a determinant of medical and psychiatric morbidity, should be included in undergraduate curricula, postgraduate training programs, and continuing education of medical practitioners. Continuing education of the profession is also necessary to highlight the critical role of primary health care providers in the early detection of victims of domestic violence, and to support the provision of trauma-informed care.
  • The medical profession has a key role to play in early detection, intervention and provision of specialised treatment of those who suffer the consequences of domestic violence, whether it be physical, sexual or emotional.
  • The AMA supports initiatives undertaken by federal and state governments that recognise and address issues relating to domestic violence within the community. The AMA recommends that the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Their Children be implemented and that it is adequately funded at both federal and state levels.

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The AMA Position Statement on Women’s Health 2014 can be viewed here.

Media contact
Felicity Ryan
Media & Public Affairs Officer
Australian Medical Association Victoria
Telephone: (03) 9280 8753
Mobile: 0437 450 506
Email: felicityr@amavic.com.au

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