Bullying and Harassment in the Health Sector

Tabled: 23 March 2016


Inappropriate behaviour including bullying and harassment have significant consequences—for individuals, patients and health sector agencies. This audit focused on the effectiveness of the health sector in preventing and responding to inappropriate behaviour including bullying and harassment. This audit continues our focus on the occupational health and safety (OHS) of healthcare workers and the patients they treat given the hazardous OHS challenges that exist within the health sector.

Consistent with our earlier OHS audits, this audit found that insufficient priority and accountability is given to worker safety in the health sector. Health sector agencies are struggling to effectively manage or prevent bullying and harassment.

Staff consistently report that there is a culture of accepting OHS risk, and the controls in place are often ineffective and inconsistent. Sustained improvement in health sector safety culture will require senior management ensuring greater priority and accountability is given for staff safety.

This audit, along with the earlier OHS audits, found consistent shortcomings in the leadership of sector-wide agencies.

The poor performance and variability in management practices of the health sector agencies highlights the need for stronger sector-wide leadership to support them to adopt better practice approaches to addressing inappropriate behaviour.

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