Funding to assist general practitioners in identifying and knowing what to do when confronted with family violence is critical, according to WRISC Family Violence Support executive officer Libby Jewson.
This comes after an announcement that the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) will receive $300,000 from the Federal Government to update the RACGP Abuse and violence: Working with our patients in general practice to assist the nation's GPs in better recognising and responding to family and domestic violence.
Mrs Jewson said ensuring GPs know what to do when confronted with family violence is vital in assisting those who need the support most.
"It's really important that GPs understand what family violence is but also what the drivers are," she said.
"Having information like this is critical so GPs know what to look for and how people can be affected. It may not always be physical, people may not be linking with their usual support groups or be isolated with their offender.
"I think this funding is critical in trying to manage the safety of those experiencing family or domestic violence. We want GPs to be aware and to be able to ask the question "are they feeling safe?"
These sentiments were echoed by the chair of RACGP NSW and ACT, Dr Charlotte Hespe, who said the funding comes at a very important time.
"It is a sad and unfortunate reality that the COVID-19 pandemic will have increased cases of family and domestic abuse and violence in Australia," she said.
"Some partners and family members will have spent considerable periods of time together at home due to social restrictions and loss of employment, which can lead to increased stress and conflict.
"So we must do all we can to ensure GPs are equipped with the skills and resources to help people experiencing abuse and violence and ensure they get the support they need."
Chair of the RACGP Abuse and Violence in Families Specific Interest Network Dr Elizabeth Hindmarsh added GPs are often one of the first people those suffering from family violence turn to for help.
"Along with friends and family, GPs are often the first person those experiencing abuse and violence turn to for help," she said.
"We are already experienced in detecting whether a person may be suffering from family and domestic abuse and violence. Now more than ever we need to look for the warning signs when caring for our patients."
People suffering from family or domestic violence can access help via 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).