Victorian maternal and child health nurses’ family violence practices and training needs: a cross sectional analysis of routine data. Academic Article uri icon


  • This study investigated maternal and child health (MCH) nurse family violence clinical practices, practice gaps and future family violence training needs. Descriptive analysis was conducted of routine data collected as part of a larger MCH nurse family violence training project conducted in 2018. A purposive sample of routine data (2017-18) was analysed from six Victorian metropolitan and four regional and rural areas that were experiencing high rates of violence, as indicated by police reports. Descriptive statistics and regression analyses were used to identify rates of nurse family violence screening, safety planning and referral, with practice differences analysed across locations. MCH nurses ask only one in two clients about family violence at the mandated 4-week postnatal clinic visit. Overall, metropolitan nurses screen for family violence at higher rates than rural nurses. Safety planning rates were low (1.3%), suggesting that screening is not translating to disclosure rates equivalent to state-wide prevalence (~14-17%) or police data. Nurse referrals are even lower (<1%), with practice differences noted across reporting systems. Despite data collection limitations, analysis of routine data shows significant gaps in nurse family violence screening and response practices. This evidence reinforces the need for systems changes to address family violence and other maternal health and social issues.

publication date

  • 2020