Partnership aims to protect health care staff from violence

Partnership aims to protect health care staff from violence

Strathalbyn and Districts Health Services is one of the many health care sites across the state which has joined a partnership which aims to create safer environments for nurses, midwives and other staff.

In response to rising violence against nurses and midwives at South Australian hospitals, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (SA Branch) has partnered with Crime Stoppers and health care sites across the State to create a safer working environment for health care staff.

Frontline health care workers have been lauded by the community as heroes for their efforts in responding to COVID-19 and the bushfires earlier in the year. Sadly, they are also increasingly the victims of assaults from patients and non-patients alike.

These incidents not only occur while nurses, midwives and personal care workers are providing care but also as they arrive at and leave their workplace. Following several serious assaults taking place in car parks, including one incident last year which left a nurse with stab injuries to her neck, these areas are considered particularly high-risk.

A key part of the initiative is the placement of prominent signage, displaying Crime Stoppers contact details as well police and emergency numbers in high-risk areas, providing a practical resource to encourage people to take a proactive role in community safety.

Crime Stoppers CEO Mark Day said everyone has a responsibility to keep their eyes and ears open to identify and put a stop to those wanting to harm others.

As the nation's most trusted information receiving service, Crime Stoppers provides people with the opportunity to share what they know about unsolved crimes and suspicious activity without saying who they are.

"We know from recent national research that 81% of Australians believe the option to remain anonymous is incredibly important," Mr Day said.

Since inviting health care sites to register to participate in the initiative, over 40 of them have taken advantage of the program as a way of deterring and resolving crimes around their facilities.

"This initiative reinforces ANMF (SA Branch)'s commitment to the implementation of practical and effective measures to address violence in the workplace and ultimately keep nursing and midwifery staff and the wider community safe,'' ANMF (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary Adj Assoc Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM said.

"We acknowledge that signage alone is not a solution to fixing the issue of violence facing health professionals, however, it is a practical step that may deter criminal activities.

"While we welcome SA Health's commitment to the early implementation of anti-violence policies as part of our recent Enterprise Bargaining Agreement, the reality is health care workers are facing the risk of physical harm every time they go to work. Our members urgently need action now and not more timelines for implementation plans to be enacted," Ms Dabars said.

The organisations participating in the Crime Stoppers initiative are taking steps towards making their work sites safer by showing they take any criminal activities seriously and that they are fostering a culture of reporting suspicious behaviour.

"We know that often a criminal will stake out an area before attacking a person, and that is why it is important for everyone using car parks and at-risk areas to be on the lookout for a car or any person acting suspiciously - even if no obvious crime has been committed," Mr Day said.

"An average of 25 crimes are solved each and every week in South Australia thanks to information provided by the community to Crime Stoppers, and we hope that people will share what they know to make sure our nurses and frontline health staff stay safe," he said.

"We also want people to step up when an unknown attacker has been caught on CCTV and share what they know to hold that person to account, because rarely are these crimes committed in isolation. Maybe you've heard someone in your social circle talking about involvement in an attack, perhaps they have property that isn't theirs, maybe they match the description of a suspect - that's when contacting Crime Stoppers can make all the difference."

If someone sees a crime occurring or needs police assistance, they should call 000 in an emergency or 131 444 to have police attend. For anyone who has information about an unsolved crime or suspicious behaviour they can contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or share what they know at www.crimestoppers.com.au

ANMF (SA Branch), in partnership with Crime Stoppers, will be working with sites across SA to roll out the implementation of this initiative.