Supporting everyone to be healthy and live well

Aggression and violence against health workers – It’s Never OK!


What is occupational violence and aggression?

Unacceptable behaviour can have a negative impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of our healthcare workers.

Most of us understand that extreme acts of violence are unacceptable. But not everyone realises there is a scale of violence and aggression. Some examples include:

  • aggressive gestures or expressions such as eye rolling and sneering
  • verbal abuse such as yelling, swearing and name calling
  • intimidating physical behaviour such as standing in a healthcare worker’s personal space or standing over them
  • physical assault such as biting, spitting, scratching, pushing, shoving, tripping and grabbing
  • extreme acts of violence and aggression such as hitting, punching, strangulation, kicking, personal threats, threats with weapons, sexual assault.

None of these are ok. Being exposed to these incidents repetitively can have a cumulative and significant ongoing effect on wellbeing.

Information for the community

When we imagine aggressive or violent incidents happening to healthcare workers, we might think ‘I would never do that’. But when you or your loved ones are placed in a stressful situation you may act in ways you’re not proud of.

Even acts you may consider ”small’ like eye rolling, sneering, talking down to or raising your voice at healthcare workers can have a major impact on their mental health. To you, it might be a one-off incident, but they might be treated like this every day.

If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, try to remove yourself from the situation until you can be in a better frame of mind.

If you witness an act of aggression or violence, do not get involved – report it immediately to someone at the healthcare facility, or call the police.

More Information and Resources

For more information visit

Download the Violence and aggression against healthcare workers brochure here.