DOCTORS, police, teachers and nurses are banding together in an effort to improve the safety of those working in rural and remote areas.
A survey of more than 600 rural and remote professionals has revealed they feel their isolated settings and often unsociable hours makes their business a risky one.
The survey found working long, unsociable hours and alone in isolated settings contributed to feelings of being unsafe.
While only half reported an incident of violence in the past year, all said they felt heightened stress and anxiety about their safety.
Tamworth GP Jenny May, chairwoman of the Working Safe in Rural and Remote Australia project’s steering group, said the survey showed there was an acceptance that there was some risk associated with working in these jobs or locations.
However, this risk acted as a deterrent to some people from wanting to work in rural and remote areas.
As such, Dr May said, there were a number of areas being looked at for improvement to the safety and retention of professionals in these industries.
One important area was communication avenues and support for people who did experience violence.
Dr May said many people who experienced an episode of violence were often too afraid to return to work and better support would help address this.
She said another issue was education and training for professionals, so they could recognise potentially unsafe situations early on.
Community response and education should also be worked on, she said, as should building design, to make it easier for people to escape violent situations.
The next part of the project will involve creating a national framework to facilitate co-operation between industries on workplace safety.
Working Safe in Rural and Remote Australia is a collaborative effort between a number of different rep-