Featured Doctor

HEGARTY, Prof Kelsey

Australia- Co-convenor SIG Family Violence

Prof Kelsey Hegarty is one of two new co-convenors of the WONCA Special Interest Group on Family Violence, appointed in Rio in 2016.

What work do you do at present?

I am a Professor of Family Violence Prevention at the University of Melbourne and Royal Women’s Hospital and have been a general practitioner in inner urban Melbourne for the last 20 years. I have just started as the co-chair of the WONCA Special Interest Group on Family Violence.

How did you become interested in family violence?

I became interested in the area of family violence by chance really. I was working in Brisbane 30 years ago and read the newspapers saying one in four women experienced domestic violence. I was a pretty mental health orientated GP and I thought to myself that this figure couldn’t be correct. Not long after, I started a doctoral thesis to look at the prevalence in general practice and found of course that it was that common and I was missing this hidden problem. I was then hooked on assisting women and children on their pathway to safety and went on to look at the health effects and more recently interventions in practice and online.

What interesting things have you done in the past?

That is a great question because my instinct was to say not much but of course there are many things I have done, including travelling a lot, being a consultant to the World Health Organization and having been a champion Irish dancer. Yes you read the last part correctly. I even have a qualification to be able to teach and judge Irish dancing competitions.

What are your hopes in this role as co-convenor of the WONCA SIG on family violence?

I hope that I can exchange ideas and learnings with other members across the globe. I would like to engage regionally with people and have recently had contact with someone from Thailand and Africa who are interested in family violence. People reaching out like this to me as the co-chair is a great experience.

I am particularly keen to have further connections with the World Health Organisation work in this area. They have developed some great resources, which I think would help WONCA members.

Interests inside and outside medicine?

I have always liked discussing social justice and gender equity issues within medicine and in the community. People ask me all the time if I get down about working in the family violence area but I get a lot of strength from changes that have happened. I also gain a lot of support from my husband and hope for the future from my sons. Other things that sustain me in live and work include doing kundalini yoga regularly, reading, and having a drink, a meal and a laugh with friends and family.