The expanding home and community care sector (HACC) is struggling to keep up with demand. Stringent Work Health and Safety laws are being introduced around the country. Staff, managers and organisations are clearly accountable to meet their respective duty of care obligations. Now more than ever community care organisations need to carefully assess how they balance client care with staff safety.

Within the context of increasing volumes of care being provided for clients in their homes and in the community, a growing segment of the Australian workforce are exposed to aggression and violence because of the nature of their work – working alone while providing support for their clients in the homes of their clients.  For example, 25% of reported incidents in Home and Community Care involve aggression and/or violence.

In addition to the immediate and obvious impact of injuries suffered, for an organisation with just 100 staff, you can expect one serious workers compensation claim to cost your organisation in excess of $100,000.

Claims for such injuries tend to attract higher workers compensation insurance premiums and cause significant disruptions and secondary costs.

The majority of home and community care workers work alone and are responsible for their own safety. Not only do they need to contend with the risks presented by an uncontrolled work environment, but also the risks presented by their client and anyone else in the home, including spouses, mature aged children, other carers, visitors, and even neighbours.

There is widespread inconsistency and under reporting of incidents of aggression and violence. The 2013 Home Care, Community Care & Outreach Staff Safety Survey was a sector wide survey designed to better understand the risks of aggression and violence faced by direct care staff who provide home care, community care or outreach services. The findings of the survey will enable individual organisations to compare their experience to industry benchmarks.

One obstacle to a better understanding of this challenge is that staff may become desensitised to, and consequently accept a certain level of aggression and violence as part of the job. This is particularly so when the staff member attributes the behaviour of concern to a condition such as dementia and believes the aggressor did not intend to cause them harm.

Historically training solutions that have been implemented as a control measure to manage the risks of aggression or violence have been perceived as a cost to be minimised rather than an investment in staff.

All training conducted to up-skill staff with proactive strategies to identify and manage emerging safety challenges should achieve a level of competency such that the skills taught can be applied in stressful situations and result in more positive outcomes for all stakeholders.

Client care and staff safety should not be in competition with each other. A proactive, well planned approach to staff safety involving the allocation of adequate resources to mitigate the foreseeable risk of physical, emotional and psychological injuries, should positively impact upon the well-being of staff, the care a client receives, and the ongoing success of the organisation.


Travis Holland, Managing Director of Holland Thomas & Associates, will be presenting the free mini workshop – Understanding the safety challenges of managing aggression and violence in the HACC work environment – at CAREX 2014. In the workshop, Travis will be discussing some of the key findings from the 2013 Home Care, Community Care & Outreach Staff Safety Survey.



Home Care, Community Care and Outreach Staff Safety Survey 2013

2013 Community Care & Outreach Staff Safety Survey 2013 Community Care & Outreach Staff Safety Survey

Holland Thomas are undertaking an industry wide survey to help better understand and further explore the effects of aggression and violence on community care and outreach support staff.

Click here to take the survey now  and go in the draw to WIN one of five double passes to Village Gold Class cinemas. 


Holland Thomas & Associates

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