Be kind and respectful to our nurses and midwives


Being violent or aggressive is never OK.
Our nurses and midwives deserve to feel safe at work.

Canberrans have told us how important and valuable our nurses and midwives are to them and to our community. 

Yet, our nurses and midwives still experience a high rate of occupational violence from patients and visitors to our health services. 

The people who are being aggressive aren’t just people under the influence of drugs and alcohol or those with cognitive impairment. They are everyday people who should know how, and be able, to act respectfully.

Our nurses and midwives know better than most people how stressful it can be when your health is at risk. They see us at our worst, at our most vulnerable, and they always give us the best care they can.

Being aggressive towards nurses and midwives doesn’t help your care. It makes it harder for our nurses and midwives to focus on caring for you.

Violent and aggressive behaviours are both physical and non-physical.

Most of us know that physically hurting someone is unacceptable. However, non-physical aggression is also unacceptable and can impact staff mental health and wellbeing. 

Physical behaviours include:

  • hitting, kicking or pushing 
  • choking
  • biting, spitting or scratching
  • throwing things.

Non-physical behaviours include:

  • aggressive body language or gestures such as eye rolling
  • shouting or yelling
  • standing in the way of a staff member doing their job or in their personal space
  • banging fists on a desk
  • name calling or swearing.

Violent and aggressive behaviour impacts more than just the staff.

The effects are wide reaching. Violence and aggression impacts staff happiness, mental health, wellbeing and their ability to focus on caring for you. The negative effects can also flow onto the whole nursing team. 

It is hard to leave experiences of violence and aggression at work. Staff often carry their worries home with them which can impact their family, friends and community. 

If you are unhappy, we want you to tell us. Don’t resort to violence and aggression.

Be kind and respectful to our nurses and midwives. Everyone deserves to feel safe at work.

If you are unhappy, instead of being aggressive:

  • calmly tell the person caring for you why you are unhappy
  • ask to speak to the manager in charge
  • contact the feedback and complaints team for the health service you are visiting.


Together we can reset the norm of acceptable behaviour so our nurses and midwives can be safe at work. Campaign resources are available to download and use here.

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Page last updated on: 10 May 2021