The nursing profession is in mourning following the tragic death of nurse Karen Gilliland to an alleged act of domestic violence.
“Our condolences go out to all those who knew and loved Karen. Our thoughts and prayers are with her children, family members, friends and colleagues,” Australian College of Nursing CEO, Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN said.
“As a profession we are saddened that cowardly acts of domestic violence continue to take the lives of Australian women and that we as a society have failed in our duty to protect them and eradicate this scourge.
“Domestic violence is an epidemic in this country. Every act of violence perpetrated by a loved one is a heinous crime, yet we have failed to stamp out the insidious and toxic behaviour that leads to approximately one woman being killed every week by a partner or former partner.
“Nurse care for others, but heartbreakingly our profession is disproportionately impacted both personally and professionally by violence.”
Research published in BMC Women’s Health in 2018 reveals female health care workers are more than twice as likely to have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from their partner in the past year than other women.
“Nurses care for people every day who have been harmed by someone close to them, someone who should protect them and with whom they should feel safe,” Adjunct Professor Ward said. “For all nurses this takes a toll on their mental health, but for those nurses who have personally experienced domestic violence, it can cause them to constantly relive their own trauma.
“I call on governments to dedicate the same attention to addressing domestic violence as we have seen with the leadership and containment of COVID-19. Violence against women is systemic, has far reaching consequences and is a whole of society problem. Until this is addressed properly, Australia will be riddled with shame.
“For the sake of our future generations we must do everything we can to stop this.
“Nurses are trusted leaders in our community and we will continue to advocate for changes that benefit us all. Domestic violence harms every member of our society.
“ACN is committed to wiping out domestic violence. Today we are promising to convene a Women and Violence Taskforce made up of nurse leaders and expert stakeholders to devise social reforms to rid society of this plague.”