Nursing Review Issue 3 May-June 2022 - Page 5

ACT Liberal Elizabeth Lee said nurses at Dhulwa face “ shocking violence ”. Picture : Supplied .

Safety inquiry launched

Unsafe conditions and violence prompt ACT state inquiry .
By Eleanor Campbell

After nurses reported escalating rates of workplace assault , a state inquiry has been launched into the working conditions inside a Canberra mental health facility .

The ACT government announced an inquiry into the Dhulwa Mental Health Unit following repeated calls from the nurses ’ union to investigate high rates of occupational violence .
According to the Australian Nurses and Midwifery Federation , there have been 100 physical assaults against nurses at Dhulwa over the six months to February .
In April , AMNF ACT branch president Matthew Daniel told reporters that a nurse had lost part of his finger during an incident over the Easter weekend .
He said staff were afraid to speak out about experiencing violence due to fear of being blamed by management .
“ One of my own staff heard one of the managers at Dhulwa tell a staff member it was her fault that WorkSafe was coming into the facility ,” Daniel said .
“ I think giving a voice to this issue is making more of our members come forward .”
Victoria ’ s workplace safety regulator issued the unit multiple improvement and prohibition notices on April 20 , after the union said a nurse likened working at Dhulwa to “ being sent into the killing fields ”.
The $ 43 million-dollar mental health unit , which opened in 2016 , has capacity to house up to 25 adult patients .
The facility focuses on rehabilitation for individuals who have had contact with the justice system .
ACT Minister for Mental Health Emma Davidson said the inquiry will address the “ immediate issues ” at Dhulwa and will regularly consult with the nurses ’ union .
“ Our nurses should feel safe , supported and confident at work so they can deliver the best possible care across our health system ,” Davidson said .
“ Following the recent incidents at Dhulwa , it is clear more must be done to ensure nurses feel safe .” ■


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