The topic of concussion in sport has grown more and more in recent years, and a group of Hunter service providers are hoping for the same focus on brain injuries from domestic and family violence.
The topic was discussed on December 7 at a round table of 30 specialist domestic and family violence service representatives and health workers from across the Hunter. The round table, held at Noah's On the Beach was organised by the Hunter Domestic and Family Violence Consortium
Port Stephens Family and Neighbourhood Services manager and Hunter Domestic and Family Violence Consortium member Sue Pollock said the idea for a round table came about after interactions with survivors.
"Some of the women we met with had some really significant symptoms from brain injury and hadn't accessed medical care," Ms Pollock said.
"We were working with those women to be able to access medical care and we just started thinking more about it and thinking about how in the DV sector, symptoms like difficulty processing, memory loss, difficulty of making yourself understood, headaches and so forth, we often attribute them to the trauma of the violence or to PTSD, anxiety and even drug and alcohol at times.
"We realised we've got a lot of learning to do in terms of what is actually a symptom from a brain injury, where the gaps are and what the committee can do better basically so that women, children and young people can get access to optimal medical care.
"That's something that's not happening at the moment.
"We had done screeners in the four weeks prior to the round table, and what we found out in those screeners was 83 per cent of women, children and young people who had been subjected to a non-lethal strangulation or assault to the head, neck and face had actually not been able to seek medical treatment."
Ms Pollock said the group were hoping to also draw attention to the issue in the community.
"We want the same focus and attention on this situation as football and concussion get for example," she said.
She said a working group would be formed to take the issue further.
"It was a terrific day and everyone in the room had a lot of commitment and there was a lot of transparency about the gaps and a lot of commitment and a lot of willingness to make things better for women and children," Ms Pollock said.
"Having said that the current context is the health system is overwhelmed, the domestic and family violence system is overwhelmed. So we were trying to find out what are some things that we can do to improve this space given that context, so that's a bit of a challenge in itself."
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