Kelsey Hegarty appointed first Joint Chair of Family Violence Prevention with Royal Women’s Hospital

June 16 / 183

Professor Kelsey Hegarty (left), with Rosie Batty, Professor Jane Gunn and Professor Cathy Humphreys
Professor Kelsey Hegarty (left), with Rosie Batty, Professor Jane Gunn and Professor Cathy Humphreys

Academic General Practitioner Professor Kelsey Hegarty has been appointed as Australia’s first chair of Family Violence Prevention. It is a joint appointment between the University and the Royal Women’s Hospital (the Women’s).

The announcement was made by Minister for Health Jill Hennessy at the first Strengthening Hospital Responses to Family Violence (SHRFV) forum in Melbourne recently.

It came as the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted a global plan to strengthen the role of the health system to address interpersonal violence, in particular against women and children. Australia was one of 44 member states to adopt the resolution at the 69th World Health Assembly.

The new Chair of Family Violence Prevention will work closely with the WHO over coming months as an expert advisor. Professor Hegarty is a lead researcher on the role of the health system in preventing family violence in Australia and globally.

Minister Hennessy said hospitals and primary care settings were uniquely placed to provide women and children with a safe place to disclose that they are suffering family violence and need help.

"The appointment of this Australian first chair of Family Violence Prevention is an important step in strengthening the role of our health system in responding to and preventing family violence,” she said. "We are working with the University of Melbourne and our hospitals, supporting them to take the lead in preventing women and children from suffering any more harm.’’

Professor Geoff McColl, Head of the University of Melbourne Medical School says: “The chair further develops an important element of our work as part of the new Melbourne Research Alliance to End Violence Against Women and their Children, building on existing research strengths within the University”.

Professor Hegarty said she was honoured to be made Australia's first chair of Family Violence, and pleased that it would unite the research efforts of the University and the Women’s.

“This will give me the support and resources to continue researching how health practitioners and the holistic health care system can support women and children facing family violence,'' Professor Hegarty said.

"We know family violence is incredibly complex and so often the victims are isolated, so we need to tap into new technologies and ensure that doctors, nurses and the health care system are supported to assist families where violence is occurring.

"This position will form the focus for the two organisations to work together to find pathways for the safety and well-being of women and their children.''

Story by Kelly Ryan.

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