Security measures for RANS in a challenging Environment

Robby Chibawe



Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Services (PAMS) provides primary health care to the Martu people of the Western Australian Desert communities of Jigalong, Cotton Creek, Punmu and Kunawarritji. These are very remote communities accessible by dirt roads. Jigalong is 3 hours drive east of Newman, Cotton Creek 6 hours drive, Punmu 10 hours drive and Kunawarritji 14 hours drive from Newman.

Due to community sizes, only Jigalong health service has 3 nurses at any given time. Punmu, Cotton Creek and Kunawarritji are all single nurse posts. PAMS has put in place some mechanisms to provide a safe working environment for staff.

Our strategy is a multi- pillar approach of:

  • Strong community engagement
  • Security measures which include installation of cameras and intercom systems on all nursing houses and clinics.
  • Communities with Aboriginal health Workers are the first line contact.
  • For other communities community members encouraged to go to Community Engagement Officers employed by PAMS as first point of contact after hours
  • Improving the employment conditions for Community CEO’s for the hours they spend supporting community

The above measures are working, so far we have had no cases of violence on our staff. At this stage the communities do not support concept of erecting high fences.

Question is how far do you go with implementing security measures that can potentially create greater barriers between staff and community rather than protection

We are still lobbying the Government for more funds to abolish single nurse posts


Robby Chibawe, has about 20 years’ experience in health.. Initial nursing training was undertaken in n Zambia, Africa and worked extensively in HIV/AIDS programs from training to Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV, Counselling and Testing. Bachelor of Nursing completed at Latrobe University in Melbourne and has worked in Victoria, Queensland (Bidgerdii Aboriginal Health Service in Rockhampton) and now with PAMS… I started working as a RAN in Jigalong, Punmu, and Kunawarritji. Then back to Jigalong as Clinical Coordinator, then promoted to Clinical Manager. I was appointed Acting CEO late last year, then confirmed CEO in February 2018. Currently studying Masters of Public Health at UQ.