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The good news is that health and aged care facilities can, and must, prevent and reduce violence.
ANMF (Vic Branch) is working with the Andrews Government, employers and members to prevent violence and ensure that nurses, midwives and personal care workers go home to their families and loved ones at the end of a shift.
The community is aware that violence occurs in emergency departments and mental health settings across Victoria. It is less well known that patients, clients, residents and family and visitors are also violent and aggressive in birthing suites, palliative care, medical and surgical wards, intensive care units, community health and nursing homes. Some of the violence is caused by people affected by alcohol, drugs and mental illness. However, a large number of attacks on nurses, midwives and personal care workers are by angry people under stress.
ANMF’s ’10 Point Plan to End Violence and Aggression: A Guide for Health Services (466KB, pdf), first published in July 2017 and updated in 2022, provides a traffic light approach to the systemic changes required to prevent and respond to violence. The guide includes a message from Victorian Health and Ambulance Services Minister Martin Foley and Workplace Safety Minister Ingrid Stitt. ANMF is encouraging all health and aged care facilities to adopt the measures in this guide. This is what a successful organisational response to the prevention of violence and aggression should look like.
Encouragingly we are seeing a reduction in violence at the health facilities where the chief executive officers are chairing the occupational violence and aggression committee. The challenge now is for all chief executive officers and their boards to drive the changes needed to make their hospitals and aged care facilities safe workplaces for nurses, midwives and carers.
Much of the work is underway in public sector general and aged care and public sector mental health facilities as required by their enterprise agreements. Public sector general and aged care employers must have action plans consistent with the ANMF’s 10 point plan (466KB, pdf). Public mental health employers must have their action plans. ANMF will be using this work as a blueprint for private and not-for-profit sector employers to implement in their workplaces.
Ending violence in our healthcare system requires a government, employer and community approach. The WorkSafe Victoria campaign launched in June 2017 sends a confronting message to the public that violence behavior towards the health care workers doing their job is never OK. This campaign needs to be supported in workplaces by management and staff. There are a number of WorkSafe Victoria resources available which can assist in this process.
ANMF also has resources available to assist workplaces. Make an inquiry via firstname.lastname@example.org