Nurse safety laws overturned
Regulations aimed at ensuring the safety for remote nurses have been criticised by the very nurses they are meant to protect.
Reforms known as ‘Gayle's Law’ came into effect in July. The laws are named after nurse Gayle Woodford, who was murdered while responding to a call in the remote APY Lands of South Australia in 2016.
However, nurses and the family of Ms Woodford said regulations under the laws undermined their intent and created a loophole.
The regulations allowed remote health workers to attend call-outs alone if they completed a risk assessment.
SA Best, Labor and the Greens have now voted together to overturn the regulations.
SA Health Minister Stephen Wade said the move would also disallow other important parts of the law.
“For that one-month period Gayle's Law will not apply in the District Council of Coober Pedy or the Municipal Council of Roxby Downs,” Mr Wade told Parliament.
“For that one-month period second responders engaged under Gayle's Law will not have to hold a drivers licence, nor will they have to hold a current working with children safety check.
“If any such harm should occur the people of South Australia will be right to hold to account those members of this council who support the disallowance of the current regulations.”
Mr Wade has now been sent back to the drawing board to develop new regulations for unscheduled or after-hours call-outs for nurses in remote areas.
SA Best MLC Connie Bonaros said it is on the Government to get the regulations right.
“Something did happen to Gayle Woodford. She did a risk assessment and she's dead,” Ms Bonaros told Parliament.
“She was raped and she was murdered, and she had undertaken a self risk assessment.
“The Minister does have some nerve to come in here and tell us that we will be responsible if something were to happen to another frontline officer, until they get these regulations right.
“You've had ample opportunity to get these regulations right, and you've failed to do so.”
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation welcomed the striking down of the regulations.
“We were absolutely appalled when the regulations were put forward, because we believe that they absolutely undermine the principle underlying Gayle's Law,” SA branch president Elizabeth Dabars said.
“To disallow those regulations now is a real step in the right direction, to say that those regulations are not good enough.
“We think it's really disingenuous to assert that in the absence of those regulations the situation is worse.
“We actually believe the situation is worse with the regulations.”