Implementation of the Branch’s 10-point plan to end violence and aggression has been a requirement under the Public Sector EA, since 2016. However, we are aware that many employers have been slow to action the practical and cultural changes required to make nurses, midwives and carers safer at work.
Over the course of ANMF’s recently concluded OVA (occupational violence and aggression) Action Campaign Pilot, job reps and Health and Safety Reps (HSRs) have been providing data, gathered by themselves and their colleagues since August last year.
Using an app developed by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, our members have been auditing their employer’s progress implementing our 10-point plan. Audits have adopted a traffic light approach:
- GREEN indicates the organisation is doing everything it should be doing
- AMBER means progress is being made but there’s more to be done
- RED indicates members are still working in a high-risk OVA environment.
Over the duration of the pilot, our reps broke the 10 points down and focussed on just two areas per month. The focus for August was security and risk identification. In September it was the inclusion of family members in patient care plans, as well as risk reporting and investigation. October’s themes were safe design and education and training. November was all about policies and procedures and post-incident support, while December’s focus was cultural change and a uniform approach to create an expectation of safety.
The pilot was intended to assess whether our tools and methodology might achieve:
- movement from awareness to action regarding OVA
- measurable improvements in the take-up of our 10-point plan
- improved awareness and ownership of the plan by ANMF members
- better informed discussions with employers and government
Over the course of the five-month pilot, committed delegates– with the support of their colleagues in seven different organisations – provided thousands of lines of data for analysis and reporting, every month.
Nurses and midwives, job reps and HSRs working in emergency departments, cardiac units, general wards, medical imaging areas and day procedure units contributed, and we are grateful for their commitment in what has been an incredibly challenging time due to the COVID pandemic.
The results of this data collection included the following:
- 26 per cent of health service audits returned a green, or low risk, rating.
- 49 per cent returned an amber rating, indicating reduced risk but with much work still to be done.
- 25 per cent of the data indicates members are still working in high-risk environments in several of the 10 criteria. These areas will be our priority in the immediate term, before we turn to the amber areas.
The data provided by our excellent reps will continue to be analysed ahead of more detailed reporting, to be provided at ANMF’s OHS Conference on 18 March 2022. OHS officers will look at data for each of their sites, meeting and speaking with the workgroups involved to get the stories behind the figures and determine what is required to progress action where it is needed.
Wins from the pilot
Our members have been working through incredibly challenging and difficult conditions for the duration of the pilot. The reality is that several sites we approached were simply unable to dedicate the time required. Despite this, members at seven large public-sector organisations found a way and worked together to pursue improved safety outcomes.
That is a credit to those members and to the organisers that support them, and is testament to the importance that eliminating OVA holds for ANMF members.
There appears to be a renewed focus on OVA implementation emerging in at least two of the health services we’ve been auditing. This renewed focus is appearing as increased activity and fresh agenda items within the respective OVA committees. We believe this increased sense of urgency is in part the result of members reviewing, discussing, and reporting on their employer’s compliance with their OVA obligations.
We’ve also seen renewed focus by some health services on auditing their compliance with OVA prevention systems, with significant interest in potential use of the audit tool used by the reps.
Where we’ve spoken at monthly job rep and HSR meetings throughout the pilot, members have reported an improved understanding of the terms of the 10-point plan, how it works and what is required. The direct and regular engagement with reps prior to the pilot has also proven to be instrumental to the engagement and willingness to participate in the process. Well organised sites with active and engaged delegates and members are where we had the greatest take-up and participation. Regular monthly meetings between job reps, HSRs and their ANMF organiser and OHS officer was crucial to that success.
Further, we have seen enthusiasm extend to health services who were not involved in the pilot, with data provided by reps on sites where the pilot wasn’t actually being rolled out.
Challenges and opportunities to improve
IT – Our externally built auditing tool had limitations in its capacity to integrate with IMIS, our internal membership database, and therefore impeded our capacity to ensure accuracy of data and avoid duplication. As a result, the Branch’s development team have built an improved OVA auditing tool, easily accessed online via ANMF’s member portal.
Data captured through this new tool gives a more accurate picture of where, when and from whom it was sent, and should avoid duplication and ensure greater data accuracy.
Remote meetings – The requirement to run virtual meetings over the course of the pandemic hindered our capacity to support reps in-person, and to provide printed materials – which subsequently had to be mailed. That’s an obstacle we hope will not be in place for the next phase.
The Branch’s OHS unit will provide a detailed report to Branch Council on key findings of the Pilot Campaign and the approach for broader roll out in 2022.
Your OHS team will also deliver a presentation at our Occupational Health & Safety Conference, a full-day event Friday 18 March 2022, where we hope to announce more OVA Action.