April 4, 2016

Remote Worker Tragedy Sparks Move to Improve Safety

Sky News reports that the federal government will bring key groups together to improve the safety of remote health workers after the death of outback nurse Gayle Woodford.

The move comes as support for an online petition calling for an end to nurses working solo in remote communities pushes past 105,000 signatures and as more nurses come forward telling of being threatened, abused and attacked.

Rural Health Minister Fiona Nash said everything possible should be done to ensure workers who provide such vital services are protected.

'The facts around Ms Woodford's tragic death have not yet been established and the matter is subject to a police investigation, so it would be irresponsible to comment specifically on that matter,' Senator Nash said in a statement on Wednesday.

'However, we should always be doing all we can to ensure remote health workers are safe.'

Senator Nash said the meeting would allow health service providers to review safety procedures currently in place across the nation, understand the concerns of health workers and consider what improvements could be made.

Ms Woodford was found buried in a shallow grave on Saturday after going missing from her Fregon home, on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, early on Thursday.

Mimili man Dudley Davey, 34, has been charged with her murder.

In comments posted online, many outback health workers have called for nurses to always work in pairs or to be provided with security officers, especially when answering late night emergency calls.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation said it had long lobbied for an end to single nurse posts.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said the state government would reflect on the circumstances of Ms Woodford's death and pledged not to put the issue aside.