Security boost for Whyalla and Port Augusta EDs

4 June 2021

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (SA Branch) welcomes the introduction this week of security guards at the Whyalla and Port Augusta hospital emergency departments.

The Flinders and Upper North Local Health Network has confirmed a guard is currently on-site 24/7 at both hospital EDs.
An additional security guard is expected to start at Whyalla Hospital in two weeks’ time.

The move follows a spate of violent attacks and widespread media coverage after the ANMF (SA Branch) exposed a staggering 22 assaults against nurses at Whyalla Hospital in a 4½ week period early this year, including incidents of nurses being bitten, punched and strangled.

Despite the constant threat of violence, the Whyalla and Port Augusta hospitals have up until now had no security presence, relying on police attendance in the event of a Code Black (violence and/or aggression) incident.

Many other regional hospitals still have no security presence.

“We absolutely applaud the introduction of 24/7 on-site security guards at Whyalla and Port Augusta hospitals,'' ANMF (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary Adj Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM said.

“Given the spate of violence and abuse directed at nurses, it beggars belief that so many regional Local Health Networks still refuse to invest in similar security measures to protect their predominantly female staff at work.

“Many hospital sites including at Port Lincoln, Murray Bridge, Mt Gambier and Berri are all in urgent need of a physical security presence.

“At a time when women are rightly being encouraged to speak out against violence, our nurses are being sent into a veritable battlefield of disgusting and grotesque abuse,'' Ms Dabars said.

“With so many patients presenting to emergency departments addled by alcohol and drugs or in the grip of psychosis, violence is inevitable. And yet very little is being done to protect those whose job it is to care for these people. We need 24/7 security across all hospitals, not just a select few.

“Given the gravity of some assaults, resulting in serious physical and psychological injuries, we fear it will take a fatality before the State Government and SA Health are finally shamed into real action.’’