Under-reporting of personal violent incidents by remote area nurses

A/Prof Sue Lenthall1, Ms. Heather Keighley2, Mr Rod Menere3, Ms Karen Collas1, Professor John Wakerman1

1Flinders NT, Flinders University, Katherine, Australia, 2Northern Territory Department of Health, Darwin, Australia, 3CRANAplus, Adelaide, Australia


Violence towards RANs has become a significant issue. We know from previous studies that levels of violence faced by RANs are high, however little has been known about the levels of reporting of violent incidences by RANs. A structured questionnaire distributed to nurses working in very remote regions across Australia in 2010, asked respondents how often they had reported incidents of personal violence in the preceding 12 months. Responses were categorised as never, 25% of the time, 50% of the time, 75% of the time or every time.  Only 21.3% of respondents reported incidences of violence every time, while 41.5% of respondents never reported violent incidences.  Anecdotally, reasons for underreporting include a mistrust of management, a belief that nothing will be done, or a view that it wasn’t really that bad. We need to know more about why these incidents aren’t reported and take action to address these underlying reasons.  We have developed a survey to examine why some RANs don’t report incidences of violence and we would like to invite conference participants to participate.  We’ll feedback the results of this survey in the CRANAplus magazine and at the next conference.




Associate Professor Sue Lenthall has worked extensively in remote communities in Queensland and central Australia as a remote area nurse before becoming involved in the education of health professionals including Indigenous Health Workers, nurses and medical practitioners. She has completed a teaching degree, a Master of public health and tropical medicine, and a PhD aimed at reducing occupational stress among remote area nurses in the Northern Territory. Sue was the foundation course coordinator of the remote health practice program and is currently the director of the Katherine campus, Flinders NT, Flinders University.