The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) welcomes the announcement by the NSW State Government that people who assault nurses or other health professionals will be given tougher penalties.
The law, which came into effect on Wednesday, 19 October 2022, carries new offences ranging from 12 months to 14 years in prison for assaulting frontline health or emergency workers. These laws come from the countless instances of unacceptable violence that have risen with the COVID-19 pandemic.
ACN CEO, Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN, said today that the announcement was an excellent first step towards deterring people from harming nurses who care for the health and wellbeing of the Australians.
“It has always been unacceptable that nurses have been faced with harm for providing quality care for our communities,” Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward said.
“We should not have to wait until after a nurse has been harmed to act.”
“ACN has long advocated for proper penalties for those who intentionally assault or harm nurses and other health professionals and has produced policy advice and research through our Nurses and Violence Taskforce.”
“I hear stories from my colleagues and members of our ACN community every day about the violence they endure whilst providing care in all settings and on all shifts.”
“While I understand that there may be frustration and fear in supporting yourself or someone you love through a time of medical emergency or needing care, violence is never the answer.”
Research from Co-Chair of the ACN Nurses and Violence Taskforce Dr Jacqui Pich MACN in 2020 found that nearly half of all survey respondents had experienced violence in the past week (47 per cent), and almost 80 per cent of responders had experienced violence in the past six months.
ACN is calling for a national dataset of incidents to give insights into the conditions that are causing violence and provide a foundation to address issues proactively.