It's never OK: Violence and aggression in healthcare

Up to 95% of our healthcare workers have experienced verbal or physical assault.

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Healthcare workers want to help others when they're at their most vulnerable

But we are facing a serious issue in our healthcare sector.

Workers are regularly confronted with violence and aggression – from patients and residents, visiting friends and family, even bystanders.

The people who behave this way are not just those under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or those who are not of full capacity of mind. Often it’s everyday people who find themselves in a stressful situation.


No matter the situation, it's never ok

Aged care workers: Occupational violence and aggression

Nurses: Occupational violence and aggression

Paramedics: Occupational violence and aggression

What is occupational violence and aggression?

Unacceptable behaviour can have a negative impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of our healthcare workers.

Most of us understand that extreme acts of violence are unacceptable. But not everyone realises there is a scale of violence and aggression. Some examples include:

  • aggressive gestures or expressions such as eye rolling and sneering
  • verbal abuse such as yelling, swearing and name calling
  • intimidating physical behaviour such as standing in a healthcare worker’s personal space or standing over them
  • physical assault such as biting, spitting, scratching, pushing, shoving, tripping and grabbing
  • extreme acts of violence and aggression such as hitting, punching, strangulation, kicking, personal threats, threats with weapons, sexual assault.

None of these are ok. Being exposed to these incidents repetitively can have a cumulative and significant ongoing effect on wellbeing.

Learn more

We need everyone to work together to ‘Recognise. Report. Prevent’.

  • Recognise – be aware of what behaviour is acceptable and unacceptable. Recognise it within yourself, and in those around you.
  • Report – if you witness or experience violent or aggressive behaviour, do not get involved. Report it immediately to someone at the healthcare facility, or to the police.
  • Prevent – recognise unacceptable behaviour and unreasonable reactions in yourself. Notice your triggers and take time out before things escalate. If you’re an employer or in management at a healthcare service, ensure you investigate incidents, review and implement controls to eliminate or reduce the risks, and encourage your workers to report incidents.

Let's work together to stop it

No matter the situation, aggression and violence against healthcare workers is never OK.

Introducing the OVA incident investigation tool.


Information for

Order hard-copy campaign materials

If you'd like to order some hard-copy materials for your organisation, please contact us at: [email protected].

Please provide your name, organisation, contact details, and the quantity and what you’d like to order from the following:

  • Community poster
  • Staff poster
  • Case study brochure
  • Violence and aggression against healthcare workers brochure
  • Post-it notes.