Victoria’s nursing and health care staff are among those most at risk of physical assault from violent patients and families and now the Victorian government has come up with new laws to protect them.
The Labor government has promised to double the maximum penalty for assaults against doctors, nurses and other health workers if reelected. Similar protection would also be provided to the police and paramedics. Victorian Premier John Brumby promised the new laws as part of a $1.5 billion health pledge, announced on Monday. He said, “Under reforms to the crimes act any person who assaults a health care worker in the course of their duties will carry double the maximum penalty applicable to that for general assault…We’re doing this because nurses, doctors and health care workers play a special role caring in our community and we believe that they should be fully and properly protected in that role.”
The Australian Nurses Federation has welcomed this suggestion. ANF state secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said, “Our nurses work in the second most violent industry in the country and so it’s a very significant issue for our members.” She added that most of these assaults occur in the emergency departments and ANF has been after the reforms for the past three years.