Massive Boost To Make Victorian Health Services Safer

The Andrews Labor Government will double its investment in making hospitals and mental health services safer, as a powerful new campaign makes it clear that violence against healthcare workers is never OK.

Minister for Health Jill Hennessy and Minister for Finance Robin Scott today launched a confronting community awareness campaign designed to reduce occupational violence and aggression against healthcare workers.

The Labor Government will invest an extra $20 million in the Health Service Violence Prevention Fund, taking our total investment to $40 million.

The first two rounds have supported more than 60 health services and funded a range of projects such as installing alarms, CCTV, access control doors, lighting and security systems, redesigning waiting areas and trialling new equipment such as body worn cameras for paramedics and stab-proof vests for hospital security workers.

A third round of grants totalling $7 million is now open for applications.

In addition, the Government has announced that a range of public hospital emergency departments will establish  behavioural assessment rooms and existing rooms will be upgraded to meet new standards released today.

These rooms are purpose-built to better assess and manage aggressive emergency department patients who may place themselves, staff or others at risk of harm. The first five rooms will be built at University Hospital Geelong, Austin Hospital, Casey Hospital, Northern Hospital and Warrnambool Base hospital.

Security personnel at hospitals with emergency departments will also be boosted right across the state, and additional resources deployed to hotspots to better protect hospital staff and patients.

It is estimated that up to 95 per cent of healthcare workers have experienced physical attacks or verbal attacks while going about their critical work of caring for the sick and elderly, and saving lives.

The ad campaign will air from tomorrow and shows an aged care worker being verbally abused, a nurse being spat on and a paramedic being assaulted on the street. It delivers a blunt message that violence against our health care workers “is never OK”.

The campaign has been created by WorkSafe and the Department of Health and Human Services, following almost 12 months of research and development. It has been strongly supported by Ambulance Victoria, and key nurse, paramedic and other groups have been consulted.

It follows the release in 2015 of a report by the Victorian Auditor General’s Office which highlighted the level of abuse faced by healthcare workers and the need to improve community awareness of the trauma it caused.

The campaign will air on major TV networks and be supported with online, radio and billboard advertising. It will run until the end of July. For more details visit www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/itsneverok

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy

“Our healthcare workers care for us at our most vulnerable and they deserve to be safe and respected in the workplace. Violence or aggression of any kind is not just part of the job.”

“We are doubling our investment and with this hard hitting campaign we’re sending a strong message to the community – violence and aggression is never OK.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Finance Robin Scott

“Every Victorian has a right to be safe at work. It is simply unacceptable that the people doing their utmost to help us when we are sick, or caring for us as we get old, can be so badly treated.”

“This campaign asks every Victorian to look into the mirror and respect the work of our healthcare professionals – because they, like everyone, deserve to feel safe at work.”

Quotes attributable to WorkSafe Chief Executive Clare Amies

“Employers understand the need to look after the health, safety and wellbeing of their workers, but the community also needs to play its part. Everyone must respect people doing their job.”

“Regardless of the circumstances, violence and aggression is never acceptable in any workplace. It’s never OK.”