40% of Australian nurses have been victims of violence at work over the past 5 years.

Nursing Careers Allied Health has released the report of their survey involving 900 nurses.

The rates of violence are alarming. As is the expectations on staff when interacting with potentially aggressive individuals in the workplace.

The number of incidents does raise questions around duty of care, staff acceptance of the situation and best practice.

What is deemed reasonably practicable for an organisation and managers when meeting duty of care obligations towards staff?

An assault is a foreseeable risk in the areas of aged-care, mental health, drug and alcohol and emergency departments. So what measures should be put in place to manage that risk more effectively?

It would seem the money and strategies invested combatting occupational violence thus far have not been enough to remedy the problem.

36% of those surveyed reported they had not received training to manage the known and foreseeable risk of violence and threats of violence. For those who had received training, how effective was the training? 41% believed the training was ineffective or insufficient. Of those who felt the training was sufficient, the rates of violence might suggest more could be done.

Was the training supported by adequate workplace physical layout and workplace procedures?

Do management clearly support staff safety as a top priority?

Are nurses empowered to act to protect themselves and each other?

There are competing priorities and budgets to be juggled in every organisation. It will be interesting when Work Health and Safety legislation comes in to force. Will managers who are making decisions based on dollars alone be held to account if those decisions result in staff being injured?

Another interesting statistic: in 12% of incidents the nurse was assaulted by a colleague. What is being done to manage conflict between staff? In particular, what is being done to manage (or manage out) those staff who are known to resort to violence?


Holland Thomas & Associates

Travis Hol­land
Man­ag­ing Direc­tor
Hol­land Thomas & Asso­ciates
Travis Holland email address