Department of Health


The Department of Health and Human Services has developed an eLearning Module as a companion resource to the guide for health service managers. The same information in an accessible format can be found on this website and in the resource Occupational violence and aggression post-incident support: a guide for health service managers.

This guidance material is intended for any person working in a Victorian healthcare setting who has responsibility for the health and safety of other staff. This may include directors, managers, team leaders and supervisors.

Occupational violence and aggression (OVA) involves incidents in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work. Examples of OVA include, but are not limited to: biting, spitting, scratching, hitting, kicking pushing, shoving, tripping, grabbing throwing objects, damaging property verbal abuse and threats using or threatening to use a weapon sexual harassment or assault. All forms of OVA require action under occupational health and safety legislation and some incidents should be reported to police.

Post-incident responsibilities of managers

As a health service manager you play a critical role in preventing OVA and promoting a culture where OVA is not accepted as ‘part of the job'. You are expected to treat all reports of OVA seriously and identify ways to reduce the risk of an incident occurring again.

More information about your responsibilities can be found:

Early practical and emotional support

Most experts in posttraumatic mental health recommend Psychological First Aid as the preferred approach for providing early practical and emotional support to people who have experienced a very stressful or traumatic event. Psychological First Aid is a framework that can help you provide early support to staff affected by OVA.

More information about Psychological First Aid can be found:

Common reactions

Immediately after experiencing an incident of OVA a person may experience a range of psychological reactions that can be quite intense and distressing. Typically, these are relatively short-term reactions to a very stressful situation. People usually recover after exposure to OVA, and often with the practical and emotional support of others.

More information about common reactions can be found:


Providing support to staff in the aftermath of an incident of occupational violence can place significant demands on you as a manager. It is therefore important that you look after your own wellbeing using strategies that help to keep you resilient, including those that you encourage others to use.

More information about how to speak to staff can be found:

More information about self-care can be found:

Promoting mental health awareness in the workplace

As a manager, you can plan and implement simple and achievable activities that promote awareness of mental health issues and reduce stigma in the workplace, improve how staff respond after an incident, and provide staff with ready access to additional professional supports.

More information about promoting mental health awareness can be found:

More information and advice

Find out how to get more information, advice and immediate support from a range of services on the webpage Getting help.

Reviewed 09 July 2018


Contact details

Worker Wellbeing Department of Health

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