Towards a Safer Culture

Nurses and Midwives: Towards a Safer Culture – The First Step – Strategy

The impact of workplace violence and aggression is a global problem confronting all health care workers. Nurses and midwives, at the forefront of health care delivery, are the largest health care group exposed to occupational violence and aggression.

The fundamental rights of nurses and midwives to be safe and protected is a priority for the ACT Government. ACT Health Directorate is committed to improving workplace safety and continued compliance with legislated responsibility to protect workers and others from harm.

In December 2018, Minister for Mental Health Shane Rattenbury and the former Minister for Health and Wellbeing Meegan Fitzharris launched ACT Health’s  The Nurses and Midwives: Towards a Safer Culture – The First Step – Strategy  which outlines our vision of an ACT public health care system where staff, patients and visitors are protected from harm and feel safe at all times. The Strategy makes recommendations for creating a safer and healthier environment for all staff and persons who enter ACT public health workplaces.

This Strategy is led by ACT Health Directorate and encompasses Canberra Health Services and Calvary Public Hospital Bruce. We have worked closely with our stakeholders and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation in the development of this Strategy.

Project activity

The Nurses and Midwives: Towards a Safer Culture (NM TASC) project supports an approach to a safe culture that relies on leadership and collaboration cross all ACT public health services, including ACT Health Directorate, Canberra Health Services and Calvary Public Hospital Bruce.

Informed by the work of the NM TASC Steering Committee and Advisory Group, the Strategy and Implementation Plan provides a foundation for positive cultural change within ACT health care settings to reduce harm to staff, patients and visitors.

Current and completed work under the strategy includes:

  • Development of the Challenging Behaviour Guideline for Health Services which provides the framework for ACT public health care workers to manage and respond to occupational violence.
  • Launching the ‘Be kind and respectful to our Nurses and Midwives’ community awareness campaign.
  • Development of a Staff Rights to a Safe Workplace document for staff to understand their rights to a safe workplace, to be able to identify unacceptable behaviours, and be supported to always report any incident.
  • Trial of the Safewards Model at Canberra Health Service and Calvary Public Hospital Bruce. The Safewards Model is designed to reduce conflict and containment or restrictive practices by identifying and addressing the causers of behaviours in staff and patients that may result in harm and reduce the likelihood of this occurring.
  • Consultation with strategic infrastructure teams at ACT Public Health Services to embed safe design in all workplaces. Safe design includes consultation with nurses and midwives in the design phase of new builds and refurbishments, incorporation of reduction of occupational violence concerns as a key element in the design phase and adherence to the Australasian Health Facility Guidelines.
  • Progressing a report and recommendations on how key elements of occupational violence are addressed in Work Health Safety Strategic Plans, Policy and Procedures across all public health care settings.
  • Ongoing collaboration with the Culture Review Implementation Branch of the ACT Health Directorate to implement shared recommendations from the Independent Review into the Workplace Culture within ACT Public Health Services and the deliverables of the NM TASC Strategy.
  • Research and development of a Ratio Framework which outlines safe work practices (e.g.  the way that work is performed including the organisations vision/values, policies, procedures and guidelines which underpin work delivery).

Some project deliverables due in 2020 have been placed on hold as a result of COVID-19 and will recommence as soon as restrictions ease at ACT Public Health Services.

Where are we at?

Timeline infographic


If you have any questions about the Towards a Safer Culture Strategy or the implementation process email

Page last updated on: 27 Sep 2021