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Reducing Harm In Mental Health Care To Keep People Safe

23 June 2017

The Andrews Labor Government is helping reduce conflict and create a safer environment for patients, staff and families in Victorian mental health services.

The $2.4 million Safewards program is being rolled out across all Victorian public mental health units under a partnership between the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Planning is also underway to extend the model to emergency departments and medical units.

Safewards is based on a successful evidence-based model used in the United Kingdom that aims to reduce harm to patients, staff and families caused through conflict in health services.

It identifies situations that lead to conflict and provides practical strategies to avoid it.

Using a train-the-trainer, skills-based simulation program, Safewards empowers staff to de-escalate conflict situations and reduces the need for stressful interventions.

The program was successfully piloted in 2016 across 18 Victorian inpatient units. The pilot program reported a downward trend in seclusion episodes and up to 50 per cent of staff reported feeling safer in the workplace following its introduction.

Every year, one in five Australians experiences some form of mental illness or disorder.

For more information on the Safewards program, visit

Quotes attributable to Minister for Finance Robin Scott

“No one should feel vulnerable in our mental health care units.”

“Investing in harm prevention through programs like Safewards will create a safer environment for carers, patients and patient families.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley

“There’s no place for violence at Victorian hospitals and mental health services.”

“Safewards is improving safety for patients and their families, while supporting our carers and mental health workers.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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