Page 1245 - Week 04 - Thursday, 5 May 2022

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… the Government appears to be blaming nurses for the level of occupational violence at Dhulwa …

The government seems content to stand by while poor governance, confused patient management, inconsistent and opaque systems of work, appalling HR practices and toxic relationships have created an environment where … violence has become business as usual at Dhulwa.

That is from the union. That is what they had to say. Finally, the union stated that nurses have pleaded with the government to keep them safe.

What a damning report card of this government, and of this minister’s complete neglect of her responsibilities to provide a safe workplace for her staff, for our nurses at Dhulwa. The only reason that the union launched its public campaign on 5 April is because this government failed, time and again, to listen to the union’s serious safety concerns, and act.

There have been hundreds of violent episodes at Dhulwa over the past few years. On Tuesday the minister revealed in question time that there had been a further nine attacks in April. Every attack is one too many, and I wonder how many more attacks will occur before the minister takes immediate action to address these serious safety concerns.

Despite repeated questions from the Canberra Liberals in question time this week, Minister Davidson could not point to one measure that the Labor-Greens government has implemented to keep Dhulwa nurses safe, except to say “things” and “having conversations”. The minister had ample opportunity to detail what she was going to do to protect nurses but she failed. The minister had nothing to say because, as the nurses union has made crystal clear, the minister has done nothing.

We all know that an inquiry will not protect nurses today. The Canberra Liberals welcome the inquiry—it is what we asked for—and call on the minister to release the terms of reference, tell Canberrans how long the inquiry will run and commit to implementing all of its recommendations. But the inquiry, as I said, does not help to protect our Dhulwa nurses today.

The government’s job is not done simply by announcing an inquiry. The minister cannot retreat and say, “My job is done,” while attacks on our nurses continue. It is the government’s job to keep our nurses safe today, tomorrow, next week and next month, to provide a safe workplace. And it cannot. If it cannot do these things, maybe it needs to shut the facility until it can guarantee that our nurses will be safe on the job.

That is why I have moved this motion calling on the Assembly to refer to the Standing Committee on Health and Community Wellbeing the following matters: the adequacy of current security and staff safety arrangements to protect nurses and staff at Dhulwa; staff numbers and roles/positions to ensure staff are safe and protected at work; and to review current protocols and procedures for staff responding to, and reporting on, incidents and violence.

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