Response to the death of Remote Area Registered Nurse Gayle Woodford – the need for safer workplaces no matter the location

The College of Emergency Nursing Australasia is saddened by the news of Registered Nurse Gayle Woodford’s death. The College sends its condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Gayle.

The death of Gayle Woodford has highlighted the need for improved security and protection of all nurses.

Mr Shane Lenson, Executive Director for the College of Emergency Nursing Australasia says, “violence towards nurses is not isolated to any one speciality or setting. In Australian Emergency Departments, physical and verbal abuse is a daily occurrence. Nurses dedicate their professional lives to caring for people who are injured and unwell. All nurses should be able to assist those requiring health care without the fear of violence and abuse.”

“Nurses who work alone are at increased risk of violence, and must be protected. Duress alarms and working in pairs have been shown to reduce violence in healthcare.”

A petition ( has over 70,000 signatures calling for an abolishment of single nurse posts in Australia and requesting a mandate for two responders to attend all after hours call outs in rural and remote communities. The College adds its support to the petition.

One Australian nursing blog, (@TheNursePath), written by emergency nurse Ian Miller has encouraged “ALL nurses to pay tribute to Gayle Woodford and support our Remote Area Nurses by wearing a simple bandage on their upper arm.” This is to occur on the Tuesday 29th of March.

Social media has erupted (#‎GaylesLaw) from Australian nurses who are saddened by the loss of Gayle. Additionally, many nurses are sharing on social media their stories of being vulnerable to violence and abuse in their workplaces.

Health service managers in rural, remote and metropolitan areas must engage in a review of their strategies to keep nurses safe as a matter of urgency.


Further information:

Mr Jamie Ranse, Associate Executive Director, CENA