Overview: This audit assessed whether the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS), WorkSafe, Ambulance Victoria (AV) and health services are adequately protecting healthcare workers from the risks and incidence of occupational violence.

All audited agencies have implemented improvements aimed at preventing and reducing occupational violence. However, these improvements are incomplete, inconsistently applied and have not been evaluated to determine effectiveness. We found systemic failures in relation to collecting, analysing, investigating and reporting quality data on occupational violence incidents for the purposes of improvement. 

While DHHS has developed an occupational violence policy to guide health services, it has not fulfilled key responsibilities outlined in its policy or monitored whether health services are even using it. DHHS has implemented other initiatives but not assessed their effectiveness.

WorkSafe, as the regulator, has been slow to identify occupational violence in the health sector as an area of high risk. Its education activities are intermittent rather than systematic and comprehensive. It rarely uses its inspection or enforcement tools to address occupational violence incidents in the health sector.

DHHS and WorkSafe need to provide stronger sector-wide leadership to assist audited agencies to fulfil their responsibilities as employers to effectively protect healthcare staff. Health services and AV, as employers, need to make sure improvements are evidence- and risk-based, well resourced, implemented consistently, reviewed, evaluated and integrated as a whole-of-organisation responsibility. The report makes 10 recommendations aimed at better protecting healthcare workers.

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