Senate debates

Wednesday, 9 May 2018


Workplace Safety

3:59 pm

Photo of Stirling GriffStirling Griff (SA, Centre Alliance) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate:

(a) notes that:

  (i) 28 April 2018 commemorated World Day for Safety and Health at Work and Workers' Memorial Day, and

  (ii) World Day for Safety and Health at Work and Workers' Memorial Day is a day for promoting safety and health in the workplace and to honour those who have died from work-related injury or illness;

(b) acknowledges that:

  (i) Ms Gayle Woodford was a remote area nurse in South Australia who was attacked and killed while on call in South Australia's Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in March 2016,

  (ii) the maliciousness of the attack, the isolation of the work-setting and the dedication to her patients and their families drew collective shock and grief from around the country,

  (iii) in November 2017, the South Australian Parliament passed a law that now requires remote area nurses, like Ms Gayle Woodford, to work in pairs, known as 'Gayle's Law' – the law came into effect in South Australia on 12 December 2017,

  (iv) 'Gayle's Law' is only effective in South Australia, despite the Northern Territory implementing a second responder call-out policy since March 2017,

  (v) in November 2017, at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting, federal and state health ministers discussed adopting similar safety measures within their jurisdictions,

  (vi) with the Minister for Health's endorsement, health ministers agreed to investigate how these guidelines could be implemented under their own relevant state or territory legislation, and

  (vii) whilst the matter was considered at COAG and a commitment to better protection for nurses is welcome, there needs to be action in the form of legislation;

(c) recognises that:

  (i) Australia might be a federation but there is no reason nurses should be afforded different safety and security rights depending on what side of our state and territory borders they carry out their vital work, and

  (ii) there are about 1,000 remote area nurses in Australia, mostly women, and their work is challenging where they can be called upon for everything from a toothache or a wound needing stitches, to medical evacuation, childbirth or domestic violence-related injuries;

(d) further recognises the efforts of Ms Woodford's family and RAN Core to ensure that 'Gayle's Law' is introduced and passed into every Parliament in Australia; and

(e) requests the Minister for Health to urge his state and territory counterparts to adopt similar legislative safety measures within their jurisdictions without delay.

Question agreed to.