Female genital mutilation in children presenting to Australian paediatricians

Arch Dis Child doi:10.1136/archdischild-2016-311540


Objective The WHO reports that female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is an ancient cultural practice prevalent in many countries. FGM/C has been reported among women resident in Australia. Our paper provides the first description of FGM/C in Australian children.

Design Cross-sectional survey conducted in April–June 2014.

Setting Paediatricians and other child health specialists recruited through the Australian Paediatric Surveillance Unit were asked to report children aged <18 years with FGM/C seen in the last 5 years, and to provide data for demographics, FGM/C type, complications and referral for each case.

Participants Of 1311 eligible paediatricians/child health specialists, 1003 (76.5%) responded.

Results Twenty-three (2.3%) respondents had seen 59 children with FGM/C and provided detailed data for 31. Most (89.7%) were identified during refugee screening and were born in Africa. Three (10.3%) were born in Australia: two had FGM/C in Australia and one in Indonesia. All parents were born overseas, mainly Africa (98.1%). Ten children had WHO FGM/C type I, five type II, five type III and six type IV. Complications in eight children included recurrent genitourinary infections, menstrual, sexual, fertility and psychological problems. Nineteen children (82.6%) were referred to obstetrics/gynaecology: 16 (69.9%) to social work and 13 (56.5%) to child protection.

Conclusions This study confirms that FGM/C is seen in paediatric clinical practice within Australia. Paediatricians need cultural awareness, education and resources to help them identify children with FGM/C and/or at risk of FGM/C, to enable appropriate referral and counselling of children, families and communities to assist in the prevention of this practice.

Access full text (open access) here

Royal Commission into Family Violence releases releases 227 recommendations

The Royal Commission into Family Violence report was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday, 30 March 2016.

On Sunday, 22 February 2015, the Governor of Victoria appointed a Chair and two Deputy Commissioners to the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

As specified in its terms of reference, the Commission’s task was to identify the most effective ways to:
– prevent family violence
– improve early intervention so as to identify and protect those at risk
– support victims—particularly women and children—and address the impacts of violence on them
– make perpetrators accountable
– develop and refine systemic responses to family violence—including in the legal system and by police, corrections, child protection, legal and family violence support services
– better coordinate community and government responses to family violence
– evaluate and measure the success of strategies, frameworks, policies, programs and services introduced to put a stop family violence.

The Commission was asked to make practical recommendations to achieve these outcomes.

2227 recommendations were made.

Download report and recommendations (PDF) here


A service coordination guide: Improving the health care of women and girls affected by female genital mutilation/cutting

Family Planning Victoria, 2014

This national resource supports health and community service providers in all states and territories, who work with women and girls affected by female genital mutilation/ cutting (FGM/C). It provides them with the information they need to talk with women and girls about FGM/C and its potential impact on their health and wellbeing.


– Introduction and policy context
– Understanding female genital mutilation/ cutting
– Working with women and girls
– Service coordination partnerships and training

  • Download resource (PDF, 34 pages) here
  • Download care plan flowchart only (PDF, 10 pages) here
  • Download South Australian information and referral services guide (PDF, 1 page) here

*Please note there is now a specific category for FGM in SASHA*

e-learning package on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) for health profesionals

Women and Newborn Health Service, North Metropolitan Area Health Service, WA Health Dept, revised 2013

This e-learning package was developed to assist health professionals to update their knowledge of female genital mutilation.

It is recommended that all health professionals working with families and babies complete this package.

Reading of all included links and activities, the package will take approximately 1 hour to complete.

Successful completion of the included quiz will direct you to an evaluation survey and certificate.

This package may be viewed on a mobile device (iPad, smartphone, tablet). iPad users will be prompted to download the free ‘Articulate Mobile Player’ from iTunes. Instructions for accessing the certificate for iPad users are available within the package.

Access the e-learning package here 


Australian FGM Hotline launched

No FGM Australia, September 16th, 2015


A new FGM Hotline was launched today to help girls who may be in danger of female genital mutilation (FGM).

FGM, also known as female genital cutting or female circumcision, is a centuries old traditional practice which involves the coercive removal of little girls’ genitalia. It is considered a violation of human rights and a form of violence against girls. It has no benefits, only harm. FGM is practiced in 29 countries in Africa, in several Middle Eastern countries and Asian countries including Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Malaysia and Singapore. Many people have moved to Australia from countries that are affected by FGM.

The practice of FGM continues after arrival in Australia. Anecdotal evidence of girls being taken from Australia to FGM affected countries is rife, and there are practitioners working illegally in backyard operations in our own cities. Currently there is a case in NSW of two girls who were ‘circumcised” in Sydney lounge rooms. No FGM Australia estimate that there are 5,640 girls in Australia who are in high risk of FGM. There are also 1,100 girls born every year who may also be in high danger of being subjected to FGM. That is 3 girls a day born in Australia who are at risk of significant harm.

Sometimes people know about plans for a girl to be mutilated (“circumcised”), but they don’t know who to call or what to do, so girls remain vulnerable. Girls themselves may know they may be facing FGM but do not know what to do, or who to turn to. Girls and members of the community now have a dedicated FGM Hotline to call if they fear that they themselves or a girl they know are going to be either subjected to FGM in Australia, or taken overseas for FGM. The FGM hotline will be staffed by trained executives from the not-for-profit organisation No FGM Australia.

  • Read more here

Sex-abuse prevention programs for pre-schoolers can be effective, report shows

Child sex abuse prevention programs for pre-schoolers can be effective and do not seem to introduce young children to confronting themes too soon, a new report has found.

Read more here