Australian First Policy To Prevent Violence In Hospitals

26 September 2017

Victorian health workers will be safer at work with the Andrews Labor Government launching a new Australian first emergency response policy to better protect workers, patients and visitors from violence in hospitals.

Minister for Health Jill Hennessy today announced all Victorian hospitals will be required to implement a clear and standardised Code Grey policy for responding to, preventing, or reducing a violent situation.

The new statewide guidelines – the first of their kind in Australia – include minimum requirements that all Victorian hospitals must have in place to respond to an actual or potential threat. It will help hospitals better prepare for, implement and evaluate a Code Grey emergency response.

This will reduce the risk of injury to staff, patients and visitors, minimise potential exposure to violence and ensure all patients get the high quality, timely and safe care they deserve.

Most importantly a clear policy will empower staff to call a Code Grey whenever they feel at risk, and to know that an appropriate response will be triggered to de-escalate the situation.

The strengthened standards will set minimum requirements for training of staff, approaches to handling difficult or aggressive patients and visitors, and will help promote a culture where staff are supported to call out unacceptable behaviour.

A Code Grey can be called in an actual or potential violent, aggressive, abusive or threatening behaviour exhibited by a patient or visitor, towards themselves or others, that creates a risk to health and safety.

The new Code Grey Standards have been developed following a review of practices across all Victorian health services and delivers on a key election promise of the Labor Government.

It is estimated that up to 95 per cent of healthcare workers have experienced physical or verbal attacks while simply doing their job caring for others and saving lives. And this policy makes it clear abuse is not a part of the job and it will not be tolerated.

This year the Government launched the “It’s never OK” campaign designed to reduce occupational violence and aggression against healthcare workers and paramedics. We are also investing $40 million in the Health Service Violence Prevention Fund, which includes new behavioural assessment rooms at 16 Victorian hospitals.

So far, more than 60 health services have received funding for a range of safety initiatives including installing alarms, CCTV, access control doors, lighting and security systems as well as redesigning waiting areas and trialling new equipment such as body-worn cameras for paramedics and stab-proof vests for hospital workers.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy

“Violence should never be ‘just part of the job’. Our new Code Grey standards will ensure all hospitals, no matter how big or small, can prevent violence and keep their staff and patients safe.”

“Our dedicated healthcare workers care for us at our most vulnerable. They deserve to feel and be safe at work.”

“We are sending a strong message that violence against healthcare workers is never OK.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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