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Frontline workers demand action against rampant hospital violence

By Kace O'Neill | |5 minute read
Frontline Workers Demand Action Against Rampant Hospital Violence

Queensland health workers are sick and tired of the violence occurring in their hospitals and are calling on the government to step in and tackle this issue.

A recent survey of Queensland health workers by the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) has revealed the frequent extent of violence throughout public hospitals in the region, which is proving to be a huge detriment towards workers.

The survey was conducted between January and April this year and received 1,279 responses, representing the views of workers from 114 Queensland Health facilities across the state. Key findings from the survey were:

  • Over 69 per cent of respondents had been assaulted or seen someone assaulted at work.
  • Over 64 per cent of workers felt they weren’t given adequate support from their employer.
  • Over 70 per cent of respondents say they don’t think there are enough security officers at their facility (or don’t have any at all).
  • Over 74 per cent of respondents believe that their training is insufficient in regard to workplace violence, with 17 per cent saying they never received any training at all.
  • Over 67 per cent of security officers don’t feel supported when they have to physically engage with someone at work.
  • Over 69 per cent of security officers feel like they don’t have the training they need to perform their role.
  • Over 63 per cent of security officers don’t feel like they have the protective equipment to perform their role safely.

With the stress and pressure that comes along with working in the public health sector, the added weight of having to constantly have your head on a swivel in fear of a violent act can be mentally draining.

AWU Queensland secretary Stacey Schinnerl said Queensland Health is not giving workplace violence the attention it deserves.

“Our frontline health workers deserve to feel safe in the workplace, but right now, our public hospitals are anything but safe,” Schinnerl said.

“The rate of violence being reported by staff wouldn’t be acceptable in any other sector.”

The key issues identified by workers include a lack of protective equipment for security and staff, training that isn’t fit for purpose and a deficit of security staff in hospitals across the state. Each of these factors reinforce that fearful mindset that a number of frontline workers have. If these reassuring elements were made available, then workers could better focus on the very important job role that they have.

Schinnerl said that workers are putting forward five common-sense measures to the government that would help mitigate the violence they are experiencing. These measures are as follows:

  1. Queensland Health to introduce a standardised minimum level of protective equipment across Queensland Health facilities for security and staff.
  2. Queensland Health to ditch the failed MAYBO and MAPA training models and replace them with a fit-for-purpose training system.
  3. A clearly defined zero-tolerance policy for violence, with assaults on Queensland Health staff treated as “serious assaults” under the Criminal Code.
  4. Queensland Health to commit more security personnel to hospitals across the entire system.
  5. Streamlined WorkCover claims for Queensland Health staff and better post-assault support.

“Our entire workplace health and safety system is built on the premise that workers know best when it comes to their safety at work. Our members have put together a common-sense plan to address the violence they are experiencing in their workplace,” Schinnerl said.

“We will be putting this plan to government, Queensland Health and members of Parliament this week – it’s time for our politicians to work together and act on this issue.”

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill is a Graduate Journalist for HR Leader. Kace studied Media Communications and Maori studies at the University of Otago, he has a passion for sports and storytelling.