Occupational violence: let’s tackle it together
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 125 No 5, 10 July 2020, page no.8
The QTU is helping members work together to bring about change in their workplaces, ensuring we all recognise, report and respond to occupational violence.
The Work Should Never Hurt campaign, which will be launched at State Council in August, aims to empower members to start changing the culture of acceptance and helplessness that can surround occupational violence.
Sometimes we hear comments like: “I’m used to being scratched and bitten and I just tell myself that the student doesn’t mean it and they can’t regulate their behaviour and I’m the adult. But today I crumbled, and I don’t think I can face going back.”
THIS HAS TO STOP!
To this end, the QTU has developed a range of resources to help you to recognise, report and respond to occupational violence. These resources are available now on our dedicated webpage: www.qtu.asn.au/occupationalviolence
What is occupational violence?
“Occupational violence is any action, incident or behaviour that departs from reasonable conduct in which a person is, threatened, harmed, injured by another person in the course of, or as a direct result of their work” Page 6, Department of Education Occupational Violence Prevention Procedure.
- physical or verbal intimidation and threatening behaviour
- spitting, biting, hitting, kicking, punching
- malicious damage to an individual’s property
- gendered violence
- online/virtual harassment.
Occupational violence can have significant short and long-term impacts on a person’s psychological and physical health. Small instances of exposure to occupational violence can also have a cumulative effect, and one incident can tip you or a colleague over the edge.
Want to learn more? We’ve got you covered!
These have been developed for QTU members, however the principles apply to all employees. The language of "employee" and "supervisor" differentiates the roles which members may be undertaking, for example, while principals may be site supervisors, they are also employees of the Department of Education and, as such, have the same right as other employees to expect their employer to ensure they are working in a safe environment.
Employees: This guide is for all employees, including principals, and outlines what you should understand and expect regarding occupational violence.
Supervisors: This guide is for education leaders – the word “supervisors” is used to keep in line with the language of work. The principal is the site supervisor in most workplaces, and therefore has specific responsibilities under WHS legislation.
While the department is still working on its response to occupational violence, the QTU has developed awareness-raising training packages to support our members:
- a 45-minute face to face presentation (perfect for staff meetings)
- a 30-minute self-paced online presentation.
You can access these training materials at www.qtu.asn.au/occupationalviolence
For those who would like a more in-depth understanding, we have also developed a 2.5 hour face-to-face presentation. To find out where your nearest course is being held, contact your local Organiser.
To re-culture and enhance the workforce’s understanding of occupational violence and the right of all workers to be safe in their workplaces, it is crucial that people become familiar with the department’s Occupational Violence Prevention Procedure. Familiarity with this document assists teachers and educational leaders in recognising incidents or patterns of occupational violence. It establishes that DoE has a zero tolerance for occupational violence. It provides examples of occupational violence and it outlines employees’ roles, responsibilities and responses.
The department has taken steps to address occupational violence and identify gaps in current practice and support. To this end, the follow up to the Safe and Respectful School Community Roundtable at the end of 2019 occurred via remote delivery for those in regional communities in the last weeks of Term 2. A further symposium was due to occur in April but will now be rescheduled upon the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions.