Violence against paramedics continues to rise in Australia

Published:15 March 2018

CQUniversity’s Adjunct Professor Brian Maguire has continued his research into violence against paramedics.

The rate of violence against paramedics in Australia continues to rise, according to recent research revealed in the latest edition of the Public Health Research & Practice journal, published by the Sax Institute.

In an alarming increase, the new figures show that the rate of violence against paramedics has doubled from six to 12 cases per million ambulance calls worked and the number of cases has dramatically increased from five to 40 per year.

The figures were derived from an analysis of data provided by SafeWork Australia for the years 2001 to 2014.

The author of the research project was CQUniversity Professor Brian Maguire who has previously released papers on injuries, fatalities and violence against paramedics.

“My earlier research has shown that there is no occupational group in Australia that has a higher injury or fatality rate than paramedics,” Professor Maguire said.

He said this current research followed up the previous papers and looked more specifically at violence and assaults.

Professor Maguire is one of the most published researchers in the world in the area of paramedic safety and said these recent statistics should convince ambulance services across Australia to take preventative steps to ensure the problem doesn’t continue to worsen.

“The most important next step is to develop and implement interventions in such a way that they can be tested,” Professor Maguire explained.

“Anecdotal evidence suggests that many ambulance services have implemented programs to try to reduce risks, yet risks have actually increased despite those efforts,” he said.

Professor Maguire said researchers and ambulance agencies both had an important role to play.

“The only way to develop reliable interventions is for ambulance agencies to work with researchers to develop, test, implement and document the outcomes of risk reduction interventions,” he explained.

“The good news is that in other professions, for every dollar invested in this type of study, the employer saves three dollars in cost in their employees being injured. So while it’s important to protect the staff, it’s also in their economic advantage to participate in such studies.”

Professor Maguire said his research findings had also shown that female paramedics have a disproportionately higher risks of occupational violence than their male counterparts.

“The higher risks for female paramedics is a mystery and also needs to be investigated because if there is a big difference it implies there is a need for gender-specific interventions.”

The Public Health Research & Practice journal is available HERE.