Help us, Help you.

Our ACTAS staff are here to support and safeguard our community. We provide essential care anytime, anywhere. But this support comes with risk of occupational violence, which comes in many forms, from violence, intimidation, or verbal abuse. Aggression or violence, it’s not part of the job.

Help us, Help you.

Aggression or violence, it’s not part of the job.

Occupational violence (OV) poses a significant and escalating threat to first responders, who selflessly dedicate their lives to safeguarding the well-being of individuals and communities. First responders encounter a wide range of potentially dangerous situations daily. Unfortunately, these brave professionals also face an alarming risk of violence while carrying out their duties. Occupational violence refers to acts of aggression, physical assault, verbal abuse, or intimidation directed towards first responders in the course of their work. Understanding and addressing the issue of occupational violence is vital to ensuring the welfare of first responders and maintaining the integrity of emergency services.

Banner image showing posters for occupational violence

What is occupational violence?

Occupational violence refers to acts of violence, aggression, or abuse that specifically target individuals. This violence can come from patients, their families or friends, bystanders, or even individuals who deliberately target ambulance staff. The reasons behind such violence can vary, including frustration, fear, substance abuse, mental health issues, or conflicts arising from the provision of care.

Physical Abuse

Feel Safe poster showing a man being aggressive towards ambulance staff
Physical abuse can manifest through acts such as hitting, punching, kicking, or any intentional use of force that causes bodily harm or injury. These incidents can occur while ambulance staff are on duty (or even off duty if they’re in uniform), responding to emergency calls, or providing medical assistance to patients.

We can’t help you if there is any concern or fear of physical violence.

Verbal Abuse

Verbal Abuse poster showing a man yelling at ambulance staff
Verbal abuse can occur during emergency responses, patient care, or interactions with our communications staff. The impact of verbal abuse on ambulance staff is significant, leading to longer response times on vehicles, misinformed staff and putting the patient at risk but not letting us fulfill our role.

We can’t help you if you’re interrupting us, talking over us or insulting us.


Obstruction poster showing a woman yelling and using her phone to film ambulance staff
Obstruction can appear in many forms while ambulance staff are completing their duties.
Such as filming scenes, deferring attention away from patients or intentionally interfering with staff as they perform their duties.

We can’t help you if you’re getting in the way, filming, blocking or making a scene.

Our Stories

By sharing our experiences, we can better understand what occupational violence looks like in everyday life. OV can manifest in a multitude of ways and is much more varied than most assume. Our staff share their stories to better identify how we can acknowledge and avoid OV situations in the future.

Our Stories- banner image with a female paramedic and accompanying text

Our Stories-banner image with a male paramedic and accompanying text

Help Us, Help You.

When you, your family, or your friends are receiving care from ACT Ambulance Service paramedics, help us help you, by remaining calm and respectful.

First responders are there to keep the Canberra community safe. Help us, help you by giving us space to provide the right care.

Help Us, Help You poster stating aggression or violence is not part of the job


There are serious ramifications to those who commit acts of abuse towards ACT emergency staff. Offenses can be as severe as imprisonment, fines, and legal action.

Potential imprisonment
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In cases of occupational violence, particularly when it involves severe physical assault, the potential for imprisonment exists as a legal consequence. The length of imprisonment can vary depending on factors such as the severity of the offense, the presence of aggravating circumstances, and the jurisdiction's laws. Perpetrators who commit acts of occupational violence, including physical assaults against first responders or healthcare professionals, may face significant periods of incarceration. The duration of imprisonment can range from months to years, with more severe cases resulting in longer sentences.
Heavy fines
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Occupational violence can also lead to heavy fines as a legal consequence for the perpetrators. The amount of the fine depends on various factors such as the severity of the offense, the jurisdiction's laws, and the impact of the violence on the victim and the community. Fines for occupational violence can range from moderate to substantial sums of money, with more severe cases attracting higher penalties.
Legal Action
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When instances of occupational violence occur, individuals and authorities can take legal steps to hold the perpetrators accountable for their actions. Legal action may involve filing criminal charges against the individuals responsible, leading to investigations, trials, and potential convictions.
Obstructing aid
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Obstructing aid refers to the act of intervening or taking action to prevent emergency service staff from fulfilling their tasks. When you obstruct care it can lead to the patient not receiving our full attention, resulting in patients outcomes becoming more limited.