The Australian College of Nursing is saddened that while nurses around Australia and the world are providing care at great personal sacrifice during the coronavirus pandemic it has become necessary for the International Council of Nurses (ICN) to call on governments to protect healthcare staff from abuse.
“Any form of aggression towards nurses must not be tolerated,” Australian College of Nursing CEO, Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN stated. “Unfortunately, nurses face the constant threat of violence and around 95 per cent of nurses are subjected to repeated episodes of aggression each year. ACN has long called for increased focus on the safety and security of our nurses and tough penalties for those who abuse them.
“It is very disappointing to hear nurses are currently having to get changed out of uniform before going out in public or risk unprovoked and inexcusable abuse from members of their community.
“Nurses are leaving their families every day and putting themselves at risk to care for us. They are tired and vulnerable because they are working hard to look after our friends and families and it is reprehensible that they may be targeted.
“In light of the spate of incidents being reported in recent months, we welcome moves such as that by the Queensland Government to impose harsh fines on people who deliberately cough or spit on frontline workers.”
ACN commends ICN for highlighting the toll nurses are under both physically and mentally due to COVID-19.
“Employers have a responsibility to make sure nurses can access any care and support they need now and in the future. We cannot expect nurses to step up during this time and then leave them out on the edge on their own to deal with the stress their work can cause.”
ACN has previously endorsed ICN’s Position Statement on Prevention and Management of Workplace Violence and looks forward to the release of its new Mental Health Position Statement.
“This year is International Year of the Nurse, our chance to celebrate the care nurses provide. I think the vast majority of the Australian community appreciates all that nurses do and it has been uplifting to see them take opportunities to say thank you. It is unfortunate some people are choosing to do the wrong thing and cause pain which in some cases may be irreparable.”
 Victorian Taskforce on Violence in Nursing Final Report, 2005