ANMF (SA Branch) launches security campaign at Riverland, as staff highlight harrowing stories of violence and aggression  

22 March 2023

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (SA Branch) is demanding health authorities implement restraint-trained security guards at Berri and Murray Bridge hospitals, after staff members admitted they felt “alone and vulnerable” to ongoing verbal and physical attacks. 

In recent weeks alone, staff have had projectiles thrown at them, been spat at, kicked, sworn and screamed at, as well as threatened with violence. 

In one incident at Riverland General Hospital, a nurse was forced to text a colleague in another ward asking them to call the police after an aggressive patient “threatened to track me down in town and kill me”. Police took 20 minutes to arrive.  

On another occasion, a patient who was detained under an Inpatient Treatment Order became violent at 3am, smashing the window of his room and running into the courtyard from which he was unable to escape. Staff phoned police and waited until four police officers attended the scene.  

Similar incidents of violence and aggression have also been shared out of Murray Bridge Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, including where a nurse was assaulted with an oxygen cylinder after an aggressive male patient woke up and barged into the nurses’ station. He was only stopped from causing more damage as a visitor managed to intervene and disarm the man.  

ANMF (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary, Adj Assoc Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM said she felt compelled to launch the campaign after speaking with staff at Riverland General Hospital this morning.  

“Healthcare workers in regional hospitals should be free to focus on the health and wellbeing of their patients; not worrying about what will happen when the next terrifying incident of violence and aggression occurs,” Ms Dabars said.  

“The safety of nurses and midwives and the broader community is paramount and the implementation of 24-7 restraint trained security guards at Riverland General Hospital should occur immediately.”  

The announcement follows overwhelming public support received towards another ongoing security campaign targeting the Spencer Gulf region.