Shocking statistics about child victims of domestic violence have been revealed in a new campaign encouraging our most vulnerable members of society to speak up.
The Australian Medical Association has launched the campaign with Australian of the Year Rosie Batty, whose son was killed by his father.
President Brian Owler said that in the past 12 months, 569 children were referred to the Child Protection Unit at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead because it was suspected they had been intentionally harmed.
“The leading cause of death for Australian children is injury," Owler said.
“Child abuse by a parent or step-parent is the third leading cause after road trauma and accidental drowning."
Australian Institute of Criminology statistics, meanwhile, showed 29 children died of domestic homicide committed by a parent or step-parent between 2008 and 2010.
Owler said the scope of the problem was shown in statistics but he'd also seen the devastating damage first hand.
“I was shocked, when I came to work as a neurosurgeon at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, just how many cases of non-accidental injury we see here,” Owler said.
“For children who live in homes where domestic violence takes place, non-accidental head injury, usually resulting in bleeding on the brain, is very common.
“This type of traumatic brain injury can destroy a life, with effects ranging from development of epilepsy to poor emotion control to severe disability."
The campaign asks young victims of domestic violence to speak to their doctor about it.
“Everyone knows where to go if they want to see a doctor but that’s not always the case with domestic violence services," NSW president Dr Saxon Smith said in a statement.
“We want people to know that doctors can be another point of access to get to domestic violence support services.”