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New violence and abuse reporting tools for Victorian healthcare workers

“Everyone has the right to be safe at work, including healthcare workers” – Pam Dew, RCSA and ANRA representative on Victoria’s Health Services Working Group says.

An alarming 95 per cent of Victoria’s healthcare workers report they have experienced physical or verbal abuse on the job.

To help tackle this issue, the Health Services Working Group coordinated by WorkSafe Victoria has developed the Occupational Violence and Aggression (OVA) Incident Investigation Tool.

RCSA and ANRA (Association of Nursing Recruitment Agency) are represented on the working group by Pam Dew, who also holds the position of International Manager with Austra Health.

“The incidents of OVA in healthcare are somewhat overwhelming,” Dew said. “Not only

in Emergency Departments but any healthcare facility that treats people with cognitive dysfunction such as dementia, mental illness and the like.

“I am not a clinician but I do understand that many people suffering from cognitive disability can become confused, scared, disoriented and therefore aggressive.

“In the past many – if not all – thought this aggression was something to be tolerated. Healthcare staff could be punched, grabbed, pulled, pushed and have objects thrown at them and these incidents would go unreported.”

“Fortunately there has been vast improvements in understanding the reasons behind the aggressive behaviour and better diversion strategies to help affected people and reduce the likelihood of aggressive outbreaks. Education and recognition becomes a priority.”

To facilitate this, the Victorian Health Services Working Group’s OVA Incident Investigation Tool offers straight forward advice and guidance for healthcare workers on how to report incidents of occupational violence and aggression.

The Health Services Working Group is made up of industry stakeholders including:

  • Worksafe Victoria

  • Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC)

  • Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF)

  • Victorian Congress of Employer Associations (VCEA)

  • Australian Industry Group (Ai Group)

  • Leading Age Services Australia (LASA)

  • Health and Community Services Union (HACSU)

  • Recruitment, Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA)

  • Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)

Dew, who started in the recruitment sector in 1988 and joined RCSA in 1994, said the OVA Investigation Tool included sections for those working in healthcare management and the community about what their role is in addressing this issue.

The program has been launched as part of WorkSafe Victoria’s radio, print and television It’s Never OK campaign, which has been designed to educate and inform the healthcare sector and wider communities in a bid to make sure the message is clear – violence against healthcare workers in the workplace is never acceptable.

The message of the campaign is simple.

“No matter the situation, aggression and violence against healthcare workers is never OK,” the WorkSafe Victoria website emphasises. “Let’s work together to stop it.”

Dew said the launch of the It’s Never OK campaign along with the OVA Investigation tool were encouraging starts, but the sector and community could no longer ignore this issue.

“We expect the campaign will make a positive impact on reducing the incidences of violence, physical and verbal, those working in our healthcare system have had to endure,” Dew explained.

“This is just the start of a campaign we believe will need to be maintained to protect the health and safety of those working in the sector to protect our health and safety.”

The OVA Investigation Tool can be found here. More information on the ANRA Member group can be found here.


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