Closing the gap on family violence : driving prevention and intervention through health policy

Family violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities remains a significant social issue with far-reaching implications for service provision in the health arena, with impacts including: physical injuries; depression, trauma and anxiety; sexually transmitted disease;
and substance use.

Despite these significant health consequences, family violence has generally not been prioritised in health policy or responses. Instead, policing, legal/judicial and women's policy approaches have become the key responses to addressing family violence in Australia, as in many western countries.

Given that the health system often deals directly with the consequences of family violence, it is ideally placed to play an important role in preventing and responding to family violence.

This paper examines the potential for health policies, like the Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes strategy, to better engage with the issue of family violence and, thereby, address a major contributor to poor health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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