Published: 12 April 2016
Author: Peter Claven

Stringer Clark supports 'Gayle’s Law' petition to improve nurse safety

Locals in Victoria’s south west will have the chance to help show their support for our nurses by signing a petition pressuring the Government to improve nurse safety.

The petition organised by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) is galvanising popular support to establish ‘Gayle’s Law’ and abolish single nurse posts in Australia. They have already achieved 127,000 signatures, zeroing in on their target of 150,000.

The petition was prompted by the recent tragic death of South Australian nurse Gayle Woodford, who was abducted and later found dead in a shallow grave in Fregon, South Australia. Her case has highlighted the unsafe working conditions faced by many nurses and midwives working in remote and regional Australia.

Study reveals high rates of violence against nurses

Violence against nurses is not isolated to those working in remote and regional part of the country, though. In fact, a revealing study in 2015 conducted by Monash University, in which approximately 5000 nurses were involved, revealed that nearly 70 per cent of Victorian nurses, midwives and carers had experienced aggression and violence at work in the previous year.

Even more alarming was that of those that indicated that they had experienced aggression or violence within the workplace, 25% of those indicated it was on a regular basis.

In the past 12 months, nurses, midwives and carers reported experiencing on average at least two instances of the following: physical altercations (such as being hit, kicked, grabbed, bitten etc.), witnessing another person being subjected to a physical altercation and being verbally abused.

  • Violence was most commonly perpetrated by patients (40 per cent), followed by patient relatives (25 per cent), patient visitors (13 per cent) and the public (4 per cent).
  • A further 18 per cent of incidents were at the hands of colleagues.

Stringer Clark supports the petition pushing for the establishment of 'Gayle’s Law'. If you want to do likewise, you can visit https://www.change.org/p/sussan-ley-remote-area-nurse-safety

Remote Area Nurses (RAN) are instrumental in delivering and improving access to healthcare in isolated communities across our expansive outback. The role of the RAN encompasses the whole of life care, from antenate to end of life. We operate far outside the metro area, which means we are on call after hours and usually expected to attend after hours emergencies as single responders. Since Christmas 2015 there have been two sexual assaults of RAN's and now the murder of our colleague in Fregon, South Australia. We are asking the Federal Health Minister, The Hon. Sussan Ley to abolish single nurse posts in Australia. And to assist in making it mandatory for two responders to attend all after hours call outs in Government, Indigenous Health Corporations and Not For Profit health centres across Australia” (taken from the change.org page above)

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