Rural workers’ safety at risk

A new survey revealed that rural Australia may lose doctors, teachers and other workers due to violence in regional workplaces.

According to a report by ABC News, 600 police officers, teachers and health workers were surveyed as part of a project called Working Safe in Regional and Remote Australia.

The project is managed by different groups including the Rural Doctors Association, Australian Nurses Federation and the Police Federation of Australia.

Dr Jenny May, Chair of the project steering group, said that working in isolation, lack of funding as well as lack of staff were factors that were identified contributing to workplace violence.

“We know that feeling safe in a community and particularly in terms of your workplace, or not feeling safe, were correlated well with people deciding to leave our rural and remote communities,” said Dr May.

“And since retention is so important, it’s obviously an issue we need to look at.”

She also said that in order to assist rural professionals in dealing with workplace violence, more training programs should be implemented.

“Many of us work in communities where police may not be there all the time to come to our aid, so you’ve got to think laterally.

“Well, if the police were out of town at the time, who am I going to call on, how am I going to manage this situation?

“So you’re thinking not in a reactive way, but in a proactive way.”

It has not been identified whether instances of workplace violence are higher in rural areas than metropolitan areas.

“What we do know is that there are some risk factors about being rural,” said Dr May.

“One of those is lack of anonymity, not only do you work in a small community, but you live in a community as well.

“So there are a number of factors about the rural context, if you like, that make the impact of workplace violence potentially more problematic.”

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