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Government QLD, Medical Health Aged Care

Frontline Health Workers Call for Action on Hospital Violence

AWU 3 mins read

A survey of Queensland Health workers by the Australian Workers’ Union has
revealed the massive extent of violence in our public hospitals, with the union
calling on politicians to act on the issue.

The survey has revealed that close to 70% of staff have either been assaulted or witnessed an assault in the workplace.

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.

AWU Queensland Secretary Stacey Schinnerl said that 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,” Ms 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.

Ms Schinnerl said that workers are putting forward five common-sense measures to Government that would help mitigate the violence they are experiencing.

“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,”

“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.”

Media Contact: Joey Kaiser (0401 098 484)

The AWU’s Queensland Health Workplace Violence Action Plan includes:

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.

Queensland Health take a siloed approach to workplace violence and consider it
an operational issue to be dealt with by local Hospital and Health Services.

This survey showed very little difference in the self-reported rate of violence in
metropolitan or regional areas.

Ms Schinnerl said that Queensland Health’s approach to security issues requires
reform.

“This survey proves there is a system-wide issue that requires a system-wide
response.” Ms Schinnerl said.

Additional Information

Our Coverage

The Australian Workers’ Union is one of Queensland’s oldest and largest blue-
collar unions.

The AWU represents thousands of workers employed in Queensland’s public
hospitals, including (but not limited to):

• Security Officers
• Wardspeople/Orderlies
• Cleaners
• Health Professionals
• Food Services Staff
• Laundry Staff
• Storespeople
• Groundspeople

AWU Comment

AWU Queensland Secretary Stacey Schinnerl is available to provide additional
comment today.

Contact Joey Kaiser at 0401 098 484 to arrange.

The Survey

Between January and April 2024, the AWU ran a survey of Queensland Health
staff to capture information about workplace violence.

1,279 staff responded to the survey, with input from many different parts of the
workforce, including security officers, nurses, cleaners, wardspeople, food
services workers, health professionals and administration staff. The results
represent the views of workers from 114 Queensland Health workplaces.

Security officers were provided additional questions regarding their specific
issues.

This is a massive cross section of the workforce and is a representative sample of
what is occurring in our hospitals.

Key results were as follows:

- Over 69% of respondents had been assaulted or seen someone be
assaulted at work.

- Over 64% of workers felt they weren’t given adequate support from their
employer.

- Over 70% of respondents say they don’t think there are enough security
officers at their facility (or don’t have any at all).

- Over 74% of respondents believe that their training is insufficient in regard
to workplace violence, with 17% saying they never received any training at
all.

- Over 67% of security officers don’t feel supported when they have to
physically engage with someone at work.

- Over 69% of security officers feel like they don’t have the training they need
to perform their role.

- Over 63% of security officers don’t feel like they have the protective
equipment to perform their role safely.

The AWU’s Workplace Violence Action Plan

For more information regarding the five measures workers want adopted to
mitigate violence in the workplace, click the link here.

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