Health Workplace Safety in Remote Australia

Page last updated: 18 July 2017

Remote health workforce safety and security has been a long-standing concern for all governments and employers.

Remote area health workers are required to provide services in areas where there are often inadequate staffing levels, frequent calls out at night, professional isolation, violence in the workplace, limited supervision, concerns for personal safety, inadequate infrastructure or equipment and often within a cross-cultural context. Remote area health workers are also required to work under these conditions whilst striving to meet the health demands of some of the most disadvantaged populations in Australia.

Employers are responsible for providing safe and secure working conditions for their staff. While the Australian Government does not directly employ remote area health staff, it has invested in improving safety and security for the remote area health workforce by funding the Council of Remote Area Nurses of Australia (CRANAplus) to develop a suite of resources to assist and guide employers, health service providers, communities, clinicians and other health workers, to establish and maintain safe and effective working arrangements at remote health services.

The Australian Government funding supported the development of the:

CRANAplus released the first resource, the Remote Health Workforce Safety and Security Report: Literature Review, Consultation, and Survey Results report, in January 2017. The Report makes 31 recommendations to improve safety and security for the remote area health workforce, focusing on issues that can be responded to positively and at limited cost, such as repair and maintenance of facilities, accommodation and equipment, and remote area nurses being accompanied when responding to call-outs.

The second resource, the Safety and Security Guidelines for Remote and Isolated Health, was released in May 2017. The guidelines provide examples of activities that can be implemented by employers, service providers, communities, clinicians and other stakeholders to establish and maintain safe and effective operating systems in remote health services. They identify seven safety and security priority areas, each of which is to be considered through the lens of the individual, the team, the employer, the infrastructure, the environment and the culture and community. Although developed primarily for small remote towns and communities, the guidelines can be contextualised to any area or industry that requires health service provision in an isolated setting.

Further information on the CRANAplus Safety and Security in Remote Healthcare project can be found on the CRANAplus website.