The silent enemy: Current practices for healthcare professionals in the identification and reporting of psychological harm in cases of domestic violence

Matthew Raj, Ellie McKay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Awareness and recognition of domestic violence in Australia is increasing. In 2014, the Victorian Government appointed Fiona Richardson as the first Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence and Australian domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty, whose 11-year-old son Luke was killed by her husband, was named 2015 Australian of the Year. Also, a Special Taskforce chaired by Former Governor-General Quentin Bryce has been formed to conduct an extensive review of domestic violence in Queensland and legislative reforms have been implemented that adopt a broader concept and definition of domestic violence which include psychological harm. Despite these developments, the ability of healthcare professionals to detect domestic violence – a pre-requisite to the proper functioning of these laws in practice – is limited in various ways. This article provides an overview of existing legislation that proscribes domestic violence and explores current methods used by practitioners to detect domestic violence. It then examines the duty of HCPs to report instances of domestic violence and explores the methodology behind early warning detection for victims experiencing acute or chronic psychological harm. Finally, the article explores the implications of recent legislative amendments and difficulties faced by HCPs. It then discusses adaptive methods to assist HCPs in practice to ultimately prevent domestic violence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338-360
Number of pages23
JournalGriffith Journal of Law & Human Dignity
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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