The ACT Government is working to raise awareness of acceptable behaviour towards Canberra’s health professionals, after a spike in occupational violence since the beginning of COVID-19.
The Be kind and respectful to our nurses and midwives campaign aims to callout violent and aggressive behaviour towards the Territory’s nurses and midwives following input from a range of stakeholders.
Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation ACT branch secretary Matthew Daniel said the campaign, which was the first of its kind in the ACT, had been in the making for several months.
“It (occupational violence) did seem to spike in the early part of the pandemic and was particularly focused at the frontline nurses doing the testing,” he said.
“A lot of it was coming from frustration over concern and people being frightened about COVID-19.”
The campaign will feature videos aimed at raising awareness and online resources and information that will feature in healthcare venues across the ACT.
ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said occupational violence was extended through various aggressive actions towards the 7,000 nurses, midwives and nurse practitioners in the region.
“We know most Canberrans value our nurses and midwives, treating them with respect and kindness. Yet our nurses and midwives still experience a high rate of occupational violence from people in our community,” she said.
“Occupational violence is not just physical. Yelling, name calling, sneering, rude gestures, intimidating body language and other non-physical behaviours are also aggressive and can significantly impact the safety and wellbeing of healthcare workers.”
The campaign is one aspect of the Nurses and Midwives: Towards a Safer Culture Strategy released in 2018, working towards a safer environment for healthcare workers.
It will complement the Speak up for Safety and Great Workplaces Program at Calvary Public Hospital, and the development of positive workplaces with the Independent Review into Workplace Culture within ACT Public Health Services.
Mr Daniel said he hoped the combination of programs and campaigns would provide good results within the healthcare sector in the ACT.
“This is the first campaign we have done with the ACT at this level and we will be looking to the results,” he said.
“We know in other places they can work well as part of an overall strategy. It can’t go out alone, but we know it is part of other resources the ACT Government is rolling out.”
He reminded the public there were appropriate ways of expressing concerns within the health sector, outside of occupational violence.