The ANMF (SA Branch) has been liaising with Attorney General Vickie Chapman to ensure new proposed anti-violence laws protect nurses and midwives from frightening attacks in the workplace.
The proposed new laws were tabled in Parliament this week as part of the Criminal Law Consolidation (Assaults on Prescribed Emergency Workers) Amendment Bill 2019. They have been introduced to increase the maximum penalty for specific offences involving the assault of emergency workers.
The ANMF (SA Branch) is yet to receive confirmation from the Attorney General that nurses and midwives—and not just those in hospital emergency departments—fall into the definition of an ‘emergency worker’ under the proposed new laws.
“Given the significantly increasing prevalence of violence in health care, it is our full expectation that any new legislation would not overlook the largest health care workforce in the state,” says ANMF (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary Adj Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM.
While new laws that increase the penalties for violence against nurses and midwives would be warmly welcomed, she says the government also needs to focus on creating and supporting safer work places that enable our nurses and midwives to do their job without fear of harm.
“Every day, our health care professionals are subjected to frightening acts of violence and aggression, which in some instances have seen nurses hospitalised and unable to return to work.
The ANMF (SA Branch) has been actively lobbying SA Health and working with the Health Minister to advocate for a meaningful strategy to address the growing prevalence of violence towards nurses and midwives.
“Nurses and midwives shouldn’t have to front up to work each day fearing for their lives, but sadly that’s exactly what’s happening in many health facilities across the state.”
“Indeed, it speaks volumes that our prison nurses feel safer in their workplaces than their hospital counterparts do.”
Ms Dabars says anyone acting violently towards someone who has dedicated their life to caring for others deserves zero leniency.
“Our laws must reflect, at the very least, the maximum penalties applicable in other states—the behaviours are the same, the prevalence is the same and the devastating impact on the victim is the same.”