Nurses have played an essential role in leading Australian communities through the COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years. Devastatingly, over the same time, nurses have reported to the Australian College of Nursing (ACN) ‘higher than normal levels’ of occupational violence.
Every year in Australia, 95 per cent of nurses are subjected to ‘repeated episodes of aggression’. Some states also report that up to 95 per cent of healthcare workers have experienced physical or verbal assault (ACN).
For International Nurses Day, we acknowledge the countless contributions and sacrifices that nurses make every day to provide care to others. We also revisit Amanda’s story as a reminder that nurses are entitled to feel safe at work and entitled to full compensation if they’re injured.
Amanda is a registered nurse, and like many other dedicated nurses, was working the late shift one night. She was tending to a patient, who she recalls seemed perfectly fine, until he suddenly attacked her.
“He stabbed me in the face, missed my eye by a centimetre and I sustained a fractured eye socket and a penetrating stab wound.”
In a single moment Amanda’s world had changed. She was not only unable to work due to her injuries, but was left unable to imagine how she could possibly return to the job she had loved.
“I’ve lost that passion for my job. I do hope eventually that I will go back to it, but I can't say with any honesty at this point in time that I will go back to hands-on nursing”.
When work injury lawyer, Andrew McKenzie, first met Amanda, he recalled how the assault was affecting her emotionally.
“She was really struggling. She was clearly impacted by what had happened,” he said.
Psychological injuries can present in many different ways, such as stress, anxiety, depression, confusion, loss of memory, insomnia and more.
“Post-traumatic stress disorder is, I think, it's very misunderstood. The little things that seem so insignificant to a bystander can actually take you straight back to that moment,” says Amanda.
Safe Work Australia reports that “women are more than twice as likely to have to file a claim for workplace violence than men”. In an industry such as nursing, which is made up by 90% women, this can reflect an alarming number of incidents and a significant mental toll on workers (ACN).
It’s an important reminder that employees can make a claim for compensation through their super insurance if they’ve been physically injured, but also if events at work have had an impact on their mental health or emotional wellbeing.
Amanda first reached out to Andrew to help understand her options and whether she had a claim. As the situation with the insurer became increasingly difficult, she questioned whether or not she should even continue. Andrew assured Amanda that he could get her the compensation she deserved.
“I just wanted to be heard really. I wanted people to understand that the part that made me a good nurse was broken.
I remember him [Andrew] saying ‘you 100 per cent need to let me do this with you’,” she said.
Andrew explained: “These cases are always difficult. The insurer, again, in this situation behaved badly. They denied liability. They made measly offers, and it wasn't until we pushed right the way through that we were able to make sure she got the compensation she was entitled to.”
While no amount of money can make up for what happened to Amanda, she was comforted by the outcome of her claim, saying “it's been good to know that at least… financially the damage has been repaired”.
If you've experienced psychological or emotional trauma because of work, you may be eligible to claim compensation through the insurance attached to your super. We can help ensure you get the benefits you’re entitled to. Contact us today for an obligation-free first consultation or use our free claim check tool to find out if you may have a claim.
Our Canberra office is now closed, but our team continues to serve ACT clients and are available for phone and video appointments. If you need legal advice, please call us on 1800 675 346.
We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Tasmania. If you need a lawyer in Hobart, Launceston or elsewhere in Tasmania, please call us on 1800 675 346.