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Developing Safer Working Environments

Media Release

14 January, 2019

Developing Safer Working Environments

The newly appointed Northland DHB workplace violence prevention programme manager, Eliza Wallace was welcomed to the organisation this week in a formal pōwhiri. Eliza brings with her valuable in-depth knowledge and experience in the development of violence prevention strategies and pathways for preventing workplace violence and aggression.

The role which Eliza has been assigned to was established after ongoing staff survey results conducted throughout the organisation since 2017 highlighted that safety and wellbeing was a real issue for staff.

Approximately 367 reported events of workplace violence occurred between 2015 and February 2018 to staff at the Northland DHB. Many factors were attributed to these events happening including drugs, alcohol and increased presentations and admissions for delirium and dementia, as well as aggressive relatives. The impact on the individual, their families and colleagues, are significant, notwithstanding the effect on the quality of care provided to patients, and the organisation’s culture.

With this in mind, a Workplace Violence Prevention Group was established with a specific aim ‘For all people to feel safe within the Northland DHB workplaces.’ Among the group’s objectives were to ensure staff felt encouraged to report incidents of violence and to develop a framework that services within the Northland DHB can adopt to identify and manage risk factors for workplace violence in healthcare.

A Workplace Violence Prevention Plan was developed with targeted goals to be achieved from July 2017 through until June 2018. This lead to a toolkit of resources being put together, regular staff surveys were undertaken to gather valuable feedback, training opportunities were offered to educate staff on how to deal with critical incidents and risk mitigation and controls were put in place. The ultimate outcome from the plan was that management acknowledged that a new role was to be established to lead the workplace violence prevention programme.

Eliza spent much of her career working in the field as a social worker specialising in violence prevention and as a community violence prevention coordinator. More recently she has been focusing on research and lecturing in the field while she completed a Master of Social Practice qualification.

She believes that through offering this role, the Northland DHB and Te Tai Tokerau have the opportunity and potential to lead the way in workplace violence prevention and she looks forward to having further conversations and discussions with all staff to promote the development of safer workplace environments for all people.

“I am encouraged by the commitment to workplace violence prevention with the establishment of this new role, which acknowledges the importance and responsibilities that all organisations have in terms of addressing and championing violence prevention in workplaces,” said Eliza.


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