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Department of Premier and Cabinet

Occupational Violence and Aggression

State Service employees have the right to feel safe at work.

The Tasmanian State Service and unions are working together on a whole-of-government campaign to address occupational violence and aggression in our workplaces.

Occupational violence and aggression is any incident, irrespective of the intent or harm, where an employee is verbally, physically or psychologically abused, harassed, or threatened by a member of the public. State Service employees work hard to provide a range of services to the Tasmanian community. In return, State Service employees expect that the public will treat them with respect. Violent or aggressive behaviour towards employees from customers, clients or the general public will not be tolerated.

It is important that employees understand their rights and what actions they can take if they experience violent or aggressive behaviour from the public.

There are a number of practical steps employees can take if they have experienced violent or aggressive behaviour from the public including:

  • Speaking to a manager or HR.
  • Access medical treatment if it is needed.
  • Use the free Employee Assistance Program.
  • Report the incident via our incident reporting system.
  • Speak to the Police.

As part of this work a Statement of Principles has been developed. The Statement of Principles define occupational violence in a State Service context, identified factors that will be taken into consideration when determining consequences and sets out the support employees can expect.

Occupational violence and Aggression Tasmanian State Service Definition and Statement of Principles

What is occupational violence and aggression?

Any incident, irrespective of the intent or harm, where an employee is verbally, physically or psychologically abused, harassed, or threatened by members of the public including:

  • patients (or their friends and relatives);
  • customers and clients;
  • parents (or relatives and guardians);
  • people in custody or detention; and
  • people undertaking activities regulated by the State (e.g. licensing).

Where can it occur?

Occupational violence and aggression can occur within the workplace while employees are doing their job. The workplace may include offices, customer service centres, client’s homes, social events, courts, schools and hospitals.

It can also occur outside of the workplace for example when a client or customer approaches an employee at the supermarket, a football game or when walking down the street.

What does it include?

Occupational violence and aggression includes:

  • Verbal abuse such as swearing, shouting, insults and, condescending language;
  • Physical abuse such as hitting, spitting, kicking, pushing, scratching, throwing objects and sexual assault;
  • Psychological abuse such as intimidating body language, glaring at people, and threats to inflict harm;
  • Harassment such as bullying (including cyber), stalking, humiliating and other unwelcoming behaviours; and
  • Damage to property such as vandalism, arson, throwing items and theft.

The intent or ability to carry out the threat is not relevant. The important issue is that the behaviour creates a risk to the health and safety of employees.

Occupational Violence and Aggression – Statement of Principles

In the Tasmanian State Service we provide a wide range of services to the Tasmanian community including patients, students, inmates, licence holders, business stakeholders and the broader public. The safety and well-being of our employees and the community is our priority and we are committed to:

  • Providing a safe working environment;
  • Valuing equally the safety and well-being of employees and the public; and
  • Promoting a culture where there is no tolerance of violent and aggressive behaviour.

Our employees have the right to feel safe at work. We will not tolerate any form of violent or aggressive behaviour towards our employees from customers, clients or the general public.

We aim to provide a high standard of service; however we understand that sometimes clients may feel their needs aren’t met. We encourage clients to talk to us if they have feedback on their experience.

We will not tolerate of any form of violent or aggressive behaviour. There will always be consequences for violent and aggressive behaviour

Tasmanian State Service  employees expect that the public will

Tasmanian State Service employees will

Act in a manner that is not violent or aggressive

Provide courteous and professional service

Treat them and other stakeholders with respect

Be open, accountable and respectful

Use calm and appropriate forms of communication

Keep the client well informed and communicate clearly

Be open and honest and provide accurate information

Provide accurate and timely advice and services

Be cooperative

Work cooperatively to understand clients’ needs

Act in a way that is non-discriminatory

Act in a way that is non-discriminatory

Take an active role in creating and maintaining a safe environment for everyone.

Take an active role in creating and maintaining a safe environment for everyone.

These consequences will depend on the facts of each case. The consequences will range from recording the incident to denying service and calling the Police.

Factors that we take into consideration when determining consequences include:

  • The service the client is seeking;
  • The circumstances that led to the aggression;
  • The environment the incident has happened in; and
  • Whether the behaviour is repeated.

To support our employees, we will:

  • Build employee knowledge and skills by providing appropriate guidance and training;
  • Develop service specific responses to incidences and consequences for perpetrators;
  • Increase internal reporting of  incidences;
  • Increase awareness of expected and appropriate behaviour by both employees and clients;
  • Provide physical work environments that minimise the opportunity for violent or aggressive behaviours;
  • Support employees who decide an incident  should be reported to Police;
  • Ensure appropriate policies and procedures are developed and enforced; and
  • Provide support networks.
  • Support employees who require medical or other professional assistance because of an act.

Statement of Principles PDF

For more information please contact your Human Resources Branch