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Reporting workplace violence, critical incidents and service failures with HACSU

Workplace violence, it’s not part of the job!

As anyone who works in mental health or disability services knows, an unfortunate and regular experience of the job is being abused or assaulted by someone you support. In the true nature of the selflessness of the workers who undertake these jobs and an outdated notion that this is simply ‘part of the job’ violence, critical incidents and service failures are not recognised or reported. 

The reason to report

The power of reporting may seem insignificant when your face is bruised or your emotions are running high and you have no time. Nevertheless, without reporting these incidents there will be no change. Workplace violence, critical incidents and service failures impact on your, your colleagues and the people you support. Reporting these incidents will contribute to a better working, living and recovery environment for everyone. 

Reporting to HACSU

When you experience violence at work it must be reported to your employer. This allows for the employer to understand your experience and pressures them to be accountable for their workplace’s safety. Many employers will have processes in place, however this doesn’t always mean action will take place. In response to this, HACSU has set up the critical incident hotline and online reporting.

Reporting to HACSU allows the union to record data and monitor violence in our workplaces. This is instrumental in campaigning for improved safety in our workplaces.

HACSU has a Critical Incident Hotline that can be called on 9340 4132 (9-5pm). You can also fill out the form on this page. Reporting can be very quick and easy, it is not mandatory for you to provide in depth details or even speak to an organiser if you don’t want to. 

What have we achieved previously?

HACSU first began researching violence in Mental Health Services in 2013. The HACSU/University of Melbourne research project covered both the incidence and the impact of assaults in the mental health services. The research covered 384 randomly selected participants across all mental health occupations, a spread of ages and including participants in metropolitan, rural and regional Victoria. Read more about this research ! 

This results of this research has attracted wide spread media attention and raised community awareness about this important issue. Since this research HACSU members have reported hundreds on critical incidents to the union, allowing HACSU to further organise and campaign for member’s safety.

HACSU is looking to conduct similar research in the disability sector very soon. 

Check in with your support networks

Reporting to your employer isn’t going to make the bruise or anxiety go away, you need to take action afterwards to reduce the future risk. Part of this should be contacting EAP (Employee Assistance Program), HACSU encourages member to seek assistance from the EAP of whichever support networks work best for you. This goes a long way in prevent and psychological issues that may arise down the track. Sometimes after an incident involving several people, a debrief is necessary. Now this isn’t going to be the preferred method for everyone but in some circumstance it helps when everybody comes together to discuss their thoughts and feelings on the situation, this should always be conducted in a respectful and constructive manner. It may help to request a group counsellor from your employer. 


Have you followed all usual policies and procedures and informed management before contacting us?

Presenting the nature of

Has there been major service failures for clients with risk to patients?

Has there been major service failures for clients with risk to staff?

Have you or your colleagues been seriously threatened or assaulted?

Have a residents, clients, or patients been seriously threatened or assaulted?

Has your workplace been damaged?

Details of the issues(s)/ Nature of Threat/ Assault/ What happened?

Details of the damage if so:

What has management decided to do?

What action(s) do you want HACSU to take at this stage?