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  • #ProtectNurses highlights occupational violence

    Author: Haley Williams

The #ProtectNurses Campaign, an initiative The Australian College of Nursing (ACN), highlights the unacceptable levels of occupational violence experienced by nurses and demands zero-tolerance.

ACN CEO Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward says the campaign aims to raise public awareness about the extent of violence experienced by nurses, as well as demanding meaningful action from political leaders.

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“As a passionate humanitarian and gender equality advocate, I will always fight to ensure women feel safe in all areas of our lives, including at work, home and public,” says Adjunct Professor Ward.

“It is unacceptable that despite shifting societal attitudes, in 2022 women are placed in danger simply because of our gender.

“Within the nursing profession, of which 88 per cent identify as female, we face multiple threats of violence in our personal and professional lives.”


The #ProtectNurses campaign demands zero-tolerance approach to sexual, emotional, physical and financial violence experienced by Australian nurses.

“Many Australians may be unaware of the true extent of this violence as there is yet to be a national dataset. 

"For example, they may be surprised to learn we experience more occupational violence than prison guards and police officers.”

Lorna Zelenak, a registered nurse, left the hospital setting to pursue business ownership in cosmetics injectables, due to the level of abuse she faced.

“I have been punched in the stomach, kicked in the face, spat on, slapped and verbally abused more times than I could count.

“I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety related to the workplace. I would just cry and cry every night after getting home.”

According to Work Safe Victoria 95.5 per cent of health care workers have experienced verbal or physical assault.

“This evidence is backed up by the stories my nursing colleagues share with me about being punched, kicked, groped and grabbed, verbally and sexually harassed and assaulted. 

“These reports come from nurses in every State, Territory and health care setting. 

“All nurses understand how stressful it is to have a medical condition or support someone with a medical condition, but it is unacceptable to harm our health professionals.

“We must take a zero tolerance approach to violence to ensure we will not have to wait until after a woman has been harmed to act.

“When nurses are safe, we can get back to doing to what do best — shaping the lives of Australians through our expert and compassionate care,” says Adjunct Professor Ward.

ACN’s Nurses and Violence Taskforce develops policy and supports advocacy to protect nurses experiencing violence, but it’s everyone’s responsibility to eliminate violence against women and nurses, Adjunct Professor Ward explains.
“We need an all of society approach as when we fail to challenge these entrenched beliefs, everyone loses."


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Haley Williams

Haley Williams has a Bachelor of Communication in Journalism and over a decade of experience in the media, marketing and communications industries.

She is a widely published journalist with a particular interest in writing magazine features on parenting, health, fitness, nutrition and education.

Before becoming a freelance journalist, Haley worked as a writer for NeoLife (a worldwide nutrition company), News Limited and APN News & Media.

Haley also has extensive experience as an SEO Content Writer and Digital Marketing Strategist.