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Recognising and Responding to Domestic Violence

Recognising and Responding to Domestic Violence: A Scaffolded Approach to Training Under-graduate Dentistry Students

The primary aim of this initiative is to address the identified gap in Dentistry curriculum content concerning appropriately recognising and responding to domestic violence presented in clinical practice.


2015 continuing



Academic Group:

Social Work, Dentistry and external partnership with Cairns Regional Domestic Violence Service

Key Words:

Domestic Violence, Recognise and Respond, Dentistry Curriculum, Co-design

Project description

Initially, two key areas for development were identified. Firstly, the development of appropriate interpersonal skills and, secondly, knowledge specific to understanding and responding to domestic violence. Through continued evaluation other areas have been identified and included in the content, such as reporting and recording requirements.

An evaluative research project has run parallel to the overall initiative to evaluate the curriculum content, the preparedness of students and further to inform the curriculum development. Changes were made to the curriculum and design of the teaching program in 2017, based on analysis of feedback from the 2016 evaluation surveys and focus groups. Changes included a scaffolded approach introducing theoretical concepts and knowledge base content in 3rd year, introducing practical skills and responses in 4th year and consolidating of knowledge and practice skills in 5th year, based on experiences from students’ clinical practice. Evaluation is continuing and analysis of the 2017 survey and focus group will further inform the develop of the curriculum for 2018.

In 2018, we hope to expand the project to include an exploration of the Dentistry students’ general values and attitudes towards domestic violence pre and post the 3 year scaffolded training. There may also be potential for conducting follow up evaluation to gauge the impact of the training post-graduation.

Key to the success of this project has been the co-design across disciplines and the inclusion of expertise from the field, provided by Cairns Regional Domestic Violence Service.

Project partners

James Cook University Social Work and Dentistry and Cairns Regional Domestic Violence Service.

Project team

  • Dr Ann Carrington, JCU Social Work
  • Dr Felicity Croker, JCU Dentistry
  • Ms Sandi Baker, Cairns Regional Domestic Violence Service
  • Ms Amanda Lee-Ross, Cairns Regional Domestic Violence Service
  • JCU Dentistry student researchers

Key contacts: Dr Ann Carrington, ann.carringtion@jcu,edu,au
Dr Felicity Croker,