Tag Archives: Queensland

Queensland | Tough new laws bring serious prison time for assaults on healthcare providers

People who assault nurses, doctors and paramedics will face up to 14 years in prison under tough new laws introduced as part of the Queensland Government’s Safe Night Out Strategy.

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said thousands of health workers were punched, stabbed, bitten and spat on every year in Queensland while serving the public in their daily duties.

“Assaults, whether they are physical or verbal, on our health workers will not be tolerated and the Queensland Government is appalled that even one nurse, doctor or paramedic is attacked. It is inexcusable and shameful behaviour,” he said.

“It is a startling reality that more than 24,500 health care employees reported being a victim of a violent incident at work in the past five financial years. More than 4,400 health workers in the last financial year alone were victims of violence in their workplace.

“As part of the Safe Night Out Strategy to stamp out violence, if you commit an aggravated serious assault on a nurse, doctor, paramedic – or any health professional – you could be hit with up to 14 years’ imprisonment.

“If you think it is okay to assault our health workers, we’ll give you up to 14 years to think again. It is simply not acceptable and that is why we have doubled the penalty.”

In 2013-14, 2,817 nurses suffered violence in the workplace, or 8.51 per cent, from a total Queensland nursing work force of more than 33,000. That compares to 3,016 nurses attacked or threatened in 2010-2011, or 9.3 per cent of the then workforce of more than 32,000.

“It has improved but any assault is unacceptable,’ Mr Springborg said.

Data shows that many of the violent attacks against health care workers were fuelled by alcohol and drugs.

The State Government has committed $44.5 million towards the Safe Night Out Strategy including education, stronger penalties, targeted policing, better prevention and safe environments.

“‘The Safe Night Out for health workers’ campaign launched today aims to prevent violence against health frontline employees who are just doing their job, and raise awareness of the increased penalty,” Mr Springborg said.

“The campaign features some graphic images of injuries to nurses, doctors and paramedics. It will largely be an online campaign and there will also be strategically placed posters in licensed venues across Queensland.”

To help safeguard frontline healthcare employees, Queensland Health has risk management processes in place and offers a range of occupational training to address aggressive and challenging behaviours.

Training can include early detection and prevention of violence, de-escalation techniques, methods to avoid or escape the situation and, if unavoidable, physical restraint techniques.


QLD | State to adopt new blood lead notification level

Queensland will adopt a new standard for the reporting of blood lead levels in the wake of a national report.

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said Health Minister Lawrence Springborg had advised the Government would accept a recommendation from her to reduce the current mandatory blood lead notification level from 10 micrograms per decilitre (ug/dL) to 5 ug/dL.

Dr Young said this process would require a regulatory change under the Public Health Act 2005.

The Chief Health Officer’s recommendation follows the release this week of a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) draft information paper.

The paper, Evidence on the effects of lead on human health, emphasises that although lead is a naturally occurring substance in the environment, no evidence exists to show it is necessary to human health.

As such, while there is no level considered safe, a 5 ug/dL level can be used as an indicator to determine unusual exposure that is cause for investigation.

Dr Young said the 5 ug/dL blood lead level was adopted in 2012 by the United States under advice from that country’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

She said the NHMRC information paper provided public health authorities and policymakers in Australia with powerful arguments for recommending similar changes to the existing notifiable blood lead level.

Dr Young said any change to the mandatory notifiable blood lead level would not impact upon extensive existing testing and public awareness programs about lead in the environment at Mount Isa.

A free blood lead testing program for residents is in place in Mount Isa through the QML Laboratory and funded by Glencore Mount Isa Mines. Routine lead testing for children under the age of five also is proposed to be undertaken at Mount Isa Hospital.

The hospital testing program is a component of the Mount Isa Lead Health Management Committee’s Strategic Plan 2013-2016, which was released last year.

Dr Young is the chair of the Mount Isa Lead Health Management Committee, which works with the North West Hospital and Health Service, the Living With Lead Alliance, local authorities and other agencies to help reduce the risk, particularly for children, of exposure to lead in the environment.

“We have some evidence that a public education and awareness campaign introduced at Mount Isa over the past few years has helped reduce the risk of exposure to lead in the environment for children,’’ Dr Young said.

“More than 500 under-fives have been tested since 2010. Over that period, we have seen a reduction in the average recorded blood lead level in children aged under five who have been tested from 3.6 micrograms per decilitre (ug/dL) to 3 ug/dL.

Dr Young said only one child aged five or under had recorded a blood lead level of more than 10 ug/dL during the first six months of 2014, while four children had recorded levels of between 5 ug/dL and 10 ug/dL.

In each of 2012 and 2013, three children under five recorded a blood lead level of more than 10 ug/dL.

Another 15 children under five recorded blood lead levels of between 5 ug/dL and 10 ug/dL in 2013 and 10 children did so in 2012.

Dr Young said a range of other initiatives were being pursued to complement the current testing programmes.

“This includes looking at promoting increased lead screening by GPs and Indigenous health services and testing of pregnant women for lead,’’ she said.

“These are in addition to the existing awareness and mitigation campaigns being undertaken through the Living With Lead Alliance.’’

Dr Young said all children under the age of five in Mount Isa should have their blood lead levels tested annually.

She said parents could take a number of simple steps to minimise the risk of lead exposure to their children.

These include:

  • Wash the face and hands of children before they eat or sleep
  • Discourage children from putting hands and other objects in their mouths
  • Wash all fruit and vegetables before eating
  • Use mops rather than brooms, to reduce the amount of dust that becomes airborne while cleaning
  • Use a wet cloth for dusting, instead of a dry cloth
  • Regularly wash family pets
  • Encourage children to play in grassed areas where the ground cover is good and not in areas of exposed dirt
  • Ensure that domestic yards have adequate ground cover which is well maintained
  • Good nutrition, including the minerals calcium, iron and zinc can help reduce lead absorption

QLD | Pertussis vax pilot to protect mums and bubs

A vaccination program for pregnant women will help protect their newborn babies from deadly whooping cough as part of the Queensland Government’s new immunisation strategy.

Unveiling the initiative at a Brisbane childcare centre today, Premier Campbell Newman said the program would address the first few weeks of life, during which newborns exposed to whooping cough were in deadly danger.

“Queensland will be the first state in Australia to provide this free vaccine to women in their third trimester of pregnancy where it is safe to do so,” Mr Newman said.

“This Government is dedicated to improving frontline health care and this program is a key part of a vaccination strategy that will protect Queenslanders of all ages and walks of life.

“Infants typically had their first whooping cough vaccination at two months of age, so the vaccine for pregnant women would cover the baby for those crucial first few months.

“Whooping cough is highly contagious and very serious for babies and young children, so by minimising their exposure to the virus we can give our newborns the very best start in life.”

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said immunisation rates in Queensland were generally on-par with other states and territories, but communities could not afford to become complacent.

“Our strategy is to ensure that 95 per cent of Queensland children and 85 per cent of adolescents are fully immunised,” Mr Springborg said.

“All Queenslanders should embrace this strategy and work together to achieve our vision of having the highest immunisation rates in Australia.”

Vaccines listed on the National Immunisation Program Schedule are free for eligible children and adults.

To read the strategy, visit the Queensland Government’s publication portal at https://publications.qld.gov.au/ and search for immunisation.

For more information on immunisation visit the Queensland Government website: www.qld.gov.au/health/conditions/immunisation/index.html

QLD | Jab campaign sends timely message

The Queensland Government’s push to raise immunisation rates ramped up today with the unveiling of a new strategy, complete with a smart device immunisation app.

Premier Campbell Newman said the ‘VacciDate’ smart phone app will allow parents to track vaccine and booster dates.

“This strategy will extend the range of our current work aiming for higher vaccination rates of 95 per cent of Queensland children and 85 per cent of adolescents,” Mr Newman said.

“To achieve better frontline health care for Queenslanders, we need bold targets. We are setting our sights high and re-calibrating our efforts to deliver childhood immunity of 95 per cent.

“This is a cornerstone for the strategy, and demonstrates the importance of timeliness, if as a community we are to reach these higher targets.”

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said the immunisation strategy involved close co-operation between the Government and key stakeholders such as GPs, who deliver 84 per cent of vaccinations.

“If we can increase the ease with which people at all ages can access appropriate vaccinations, we are more likely to increase immunisation rates,” Mr Springborg said.

“We will also communicate the real truths about vaccination, which is where the marketing campaign comes in.”

“Experts around the world agree that vaccination is the single most effective way of protecting our communities from preventable conditions.

“Our immunisation rates generally match or are higher than national figures, but there are pockets of real concern in Queensland, such as the Sunshine Coast where only 87.9 per cent of five year-olds are fully vaccinated.

Vaccines listed on the National Immunisation Program Schedule are free for eligible children and adults.

To read the strategy, visit the Queensland Government’s publication portal at https://publications.qld.gov.au/ and search for immunisation.

For more information on immunisation visit the Queensland Government website: www.qld.gov.au/health/conditions/immunisation/index.html

QLD | Bundaberg clears path for emergency service vehicles

Bundaberg families will be treated quicker during a crisis, with traffic lights switching on to the new Emergency Vehicle Priority system.

Police, Fire and Emergency Services Minister and Member for Bundaberg Jack Dempsey said traffic lights at 32 intersections in the city had been upgraded, with seven fire trucks and 13 ambulances from Bundaberg and surrounds having the program installed.

“We promised to revitalise frontline services and we are delivering, with emergency vehicles now given priority treatment when approaching an intersection,” Mr Dempsey said.

“This not only ensures a safer trip, but will mean an ambulance can get to our families quicker if someone is sick or injured or emergency vehicles can respond to a fire quicker, if needed.

“As a fire truck or ambulance approaches these intersections, the system automatically interrupts normal traffic signals to give the vehicle a green light, returning to normal once the vehicle has passed.

“Labor ran out of ideas and has no plan to improve emergency services, but this Australian first is part of our strong plan that is creating a brighter future.

“Work is already underway to further roll out this system across Queensland later in the year, creating safer streets.”

Mr Dempsey said that since the system was activated on the Gold Coast in 2012, traffic lights at more than 160 intersections had been upgraded, with the number continuing to rise.

“The pilot program on the Gold Coast reported a 10 to 20 per cent improvement in travel time for emergency vehicles,” he said.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson said the program was the first of its kind in Australia and unique in its capability to minimise disruption to the flow of traffic.

“While this system has already demonstrated a reduction in travel times, its success is also heavily dependent on all road users being courteous to emergency vehicles, especially when they are approaching intersections,” Mr Emerson said.

“All drivers play an important role in allowing emergency vehicles to reach their destination quickly and safely.”

The system is being developed in conjunction with Queensland company Transmax and is jointly funded by the Department of Transport and Main Roads, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and the Queensland Ambulance Service.


QLD | Attorney-General issues safety warning on ethanol fireplaces

An investigation has been launched and a formal safety warning issued following several serious incidents involving ethanol fireplaces.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie urged owners to take extra care after several people recently suffered severe burns.

“Ethanol fireplaces are advertised as easy, smokeless and eco-friendly ways to keep warm, but some models have an open flame which can be difficult to see,” Mr Bleijie said.

“Queensland Health has had several recent cases of explosions occurring because users have mistakenly believed the flame has gone out and tried to refuel or move it.

“Families’ safety is paramount and, following discussions with Queensland Health, I have issued a formal safety warning notice to alert consumers to the potential danger of these products.

“The Office of Fair Trading has also launched an investigation into the products’ safety. Its considerations may include the products’ current safety standards and whether a ban or recall is warranted. The outcome of the investigation will be published as soon as possible.

“In the meantime, I would urge everyone to please be very careful when using these products, and keep children well clear.

“Keep the flame away from combustible materials such as clothes or curtains, and never throw anything combustible into the fireplace.

“Make sure the fireplace has had plenty of time to cool before attempting to move or refuel it.”

Consumers should:

  • Strictly follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe use.
  • Never leave the product unattended while in use.
  • Store fuel in a separate room to the fireplace.
  • Have an appropriate fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Never use the product for cooking.
  • Never throw combustible objects at the fireplace.
  • Always use the fuel recommended by the manufacturer.

The safety warning notice can be viewed online: http://www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au/marketplace/product-safety/safety-warnings/ethanol-fireplaces

QLD | Take care around level crossings during school holidays after series of near-misses

Queenslanders are being urged to take care during the school holidays as shocking new footage shows motorists and pedestrians gambling with their lives on the rail network.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson and Member for Sunnybank Mark Stewart today visited Coopers Plains train station, one of the state’s hotspots for railway crossing near misses, in an effort to discourage dangerous behaviour.

Although the number of near misses dropped by 27 per cent last year, Mr Emerson said too many people were taking senseless risks at rail crossings.

“Of the 135 alarming incidents that have been reported this year, 46 have occurred at Coopers Plains train station,” Mr Emerson said.

“Improving the safety of all Queenslanders is our top priority and I urge reckless individuals to stop taking senseless risks and endangering the lives of others.

“During the last school holidays at Easter, we had a shocking 17 motorists and pedestrians running the gauntlet in front of an oncoming train.

“Given a lot of families have almost two more weeks left to enjoy time off from school and work, we are encouraging everyone to pay attention and stay safe in and around level crossings.”

Mr Stewart said drivers needed to take more care at Coopers Plains station.

“Time and time again, we continue to see impatient motorists dangerously queuing across the Boundary Road level crossing, often avoiding a collision with a train by just metres,” he said.

“One near miss is too many and I urge all road users to do their part by obeying the signs and signals.”

RACQ executive manager of technical and safety policy Steve Spalding said there was no excuse for driving past the flashing lights or around a boom gate.

“You’re not just breaking the road rules but you’re also placing yourself and your passengers in a dangerous situation and possibly risking the lives of those on board the train,” Mr Spalding said.

“No train driver should have to be confronted with a situation where they are unable to stop because of the careless actions of a motorist or a truck driver.”

Pedestrians caught ignoring railway crossing protection could cop an on the spot fine of $220, and offending motorists could face a $330 penalty and three demerit points.

Motorists who damage railway crossings can also be fined up to $8800 and since July 2013 Queensland Rail has successfully recovered more than $239,000 in repair costs that would otherwise be borne by taxpayers.

Victoria | Suspected contamination of “Provive” Propofol

  • This is an update to the Chief Health Officer alert dated 2 May 2014 for Suspected contamination of “Provive” Propofol.
  • A number of people across Australia have developed septicaemia due to Ralstonia species with a common link of having been administered Provive propofol in April 2014.
  • Further investigations are being undertaken by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to determine the cause of sepsis and the strength of evidence linking propofol products with reported cases.
  • The TGA recommendation to quarantine the two suspect batches of propofol remains. At this time, no batches of any of the drugs listed below are subject to a recall.
  • Hospitals should quarantine stock of Provive and Sandoz propofol products and continue to seek alternatives to Provive and Sandoz propofol products until further notice.
  • Maintain a high index of suspicion in all febrile patients following intravenous sedation or anaesthesia.
  • Report any potential cases of sepsis following administration of Provive propofol to the TGA and the Department of Health.

What is the issue?

Ralstonia pickettii is a rare infection. It is a gram negative organism that has been linked in the past to contamination of medical therapeutic agents.

Concern was raised when this organism was identified in three South Australian patients who had procedures in April 2014. The only common exposure was the administration of Provive propofol during their procedures.

Five cases of septicaemia due to Ralstonia species where Provive propofol was also administered were subsequently identified in Queensland (4) and Victoria (1). Additional cases of septicaemia due to Ralstonia species have also been identified where there was no link to propofol administration.

The TGA is working with State and Territory health departments to gather further information regarding the reported cases of sepsis and to identify the specific organism(s) suspected of causing the infection.

In particular, the TGA is investigating the strength of the evidence linking these propofol products with the reported cases of sepsis.

As part of these investigations, the TGA is testing samples of the suspect batches for microbial quality. This testing includes performing sterility and bacterial endotoxin tests on the products. Results from the sterility testing will not be available for 2-3 weeks due to the prolonged incubation period for this test and the nature of the product.

The TGA is also carefully examining the manufacturing site data to identify relevant information.

Who is at risk?

All patients undergoing anaesthesia or sedation involving the suspected batches of propofol are potentially at risk.


Affected persons have developed rapid onset of fever and signs of septicaemia following  medical procedures involving the suspected batches of Propofol. Some have required admission to intensive care.


Medical practitioners should avoid using the following batches of propofol:  Provive MCT-LCT 1%  20 ml vials, batches A030906 Exp. 08/15, and A030907 Exp. 08/15 because of the potential risk of septicaemia.

As a precaution it is recommended that all practitioners avoid using all Provive propofol products. Because the same manufacturer and supplier are used by Sandoz, clinicians should also avoid the use of Sandoz propofol products. Hospitals should seek alternatives to these brands.

Sandoz and Provive propofol products should only be used where there is no suitable alternative and consideration is given to the benefit relative to the risk to the patient.

Hospitals and other treatment facilities should check their stocks of propofol for the identified products and quarantine these immediately.

Maintain a high index of suspicion in all febrile patients following intravenous sedation or anaesthesia.

For any suspected case, consider the following actions:

  • Take blood cultures
  • Check whether there was an exposure to a product of concern
  • Seek advice from an Infectious Diseases Physician

If you become aware of any potential cases of sepsis following administration of Provive propofol

  • contact the TGA at: adr.reports@tga.gov.au  or on 1800 044 114
  • notify suspected cases immediately to the Communicable Disease Prevention and Control section at the Department of Health on 1300 651 160.

More information

Thereapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)

QLD | Flood warning issued for locations in south east Queensland

Residents located in low-lying areas of Ipswich, Harrisville, Amberley, Laidley and Gatton should prepare for the possibility for flooding with a flood warning current for the Bremer River and Western, Laidley, Warrill and Lockyer Creeks.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) advised that as at 5.25am, rapid rises and moderate to major flood levels were occurring in Warrill Creek between Kalbar Weir and Harrisville. Further rises and major flood levels are expected at Harrisville in the next 2 to 4 hours, extending downstream to Amberley this morning.

Rises are also occurring in the Bremer River where moderate flood levels are expected between Rosewood and Walloon this morning. Minor flood levels are expected at Ipswich around midday today.

Further rapid rises and flooding is expected at Laidley in the next 3 to 6 hours. Fast river levels rises have occurred in Flagstone Creek overnight and expected to cause minor flood levels downstream at Gatton during the next 2 to 4 hours.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) South Eastern Regional Director Steve Waddell said members of the community, especially those located in flood prone areas, needed to determine now if they needed to move to higher ground.

“If you are told to evacuate, act quickly on the advice provided and take your emergency kit,” Mr Waddell said.

“Ensure you pack light and that you and your family are wearing strong shoes and suitable clothing. Lock your home and take the recommended evacuation routes for your area.

“Take your pets with you and if you don’t have somewhere to go and are holidaying in the area, contact your accommodation manager.

“Under no circumstance should you enter floodwaters and parents must supervise their children closely. Stay away from drains, culvers and any flowing water and be aware of the increased likelihood of contact with wildlife such as snakes and spiders.”

For storm and flood assistance contact the State Emergency Service (SES) on 132 500 and in a life-threatening emergency dial triple zero (000).

For further information on how to prepare your home visit www.getready.qld.gov.au and to keep updated on warnings monitor the BoM website at www.bom.gov.au

Queensland | Safety first in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Dylan

Coastal and island communities located between Ayr and Sarina are urged to put their safety first in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Dylan.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) advised that Tropical Cyclone Dylan crossed the coast near Hideaway Bay (east of Bowen) at approximately 3.30am as a Category 2 cyclone. It is now moving further inland and weakening.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) crews and State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers are currently assisting local residents with emergency response and have received around 90 requests for assistance in the past 24 hours.

Requests to the SES have stretched from Cairns to Gladstone and were concentrated around Mackay. Requests have included wind damage to property, leaking roofs, trees down and sandbagging.

QFES Commissioner Lee Johnson said residents should remain indoors as severe weather continues to impact the area.

“Damaging wind gusts to 120 kilometres per hour are currently occurring in coastal communities between Ayr and Sarina and will extend to adjacent inland areas later this morning,” Mr Johnson said.

“Destructive wind gusts to 140 kilometres per hour may still occur close to the system during the next few hours. Although these winds are expected to ease by late morning, it’s important for residents to remain indoors during these conditions.

“There is likely to be a number of hazards including fallen trees, power lines, debris and even possible structural damage to infrastructure and it is vital people do not explore collapsed buildings or go sightseeing.

“If electrical appliances in your home have been wet, do not use them until they’re checked for safety and ensure you boil or purify water until supplies are declared safe.”

Mr Johnson said coastal residents between Ayr and Sarina were likely to be affected by a dangerous storm tide on this morning’s high tide.

“People living in these areas should take measures to protect their property as much as possible and be prepared to follow instructions regarding evacuation of the area if advised to do so by authorities,” he said.

“Heavy rain and flash flooding is also expected across the Central Coast and Whitsunday districts, so it’s critical for residents to remember: ‘If it’s flooded, forget it.’

“Under no circumstance should people enter flooded creeks or causeways by road or on foot. If you come across rising floodwaters, turn around and seek an alternative route.

“Parents are also asked to keep a close eye on their children who may be tempted to explore the area and play in floodwaters.”

Mr Johnson said SES volunteers were currently out in force working to assist the community but due to the demand on their workload it could take some time for them to reach you.

“The public are asked to remember that the SES is made up of volunteers dedicated to helping others and the SES will always put the safety of its volunteers first during adverse weather conditions,” he said.

“The SES will also assist the most vulnerable members of the community first so it is important able-bodied residents did everything they could to help themselves and their community instead of putting unnecessary pressure on emergency authorities.

“If your situation is life-threatening, ensure you call triple zero (000) immediately. Keep up to date with the movement and severity of the cyclone by listening to your local radio and monitoring the BoM website.”

For storm and flood assistance contact the SES on 132 500.

For further information on how to prepare your home visit www.getready.qld.gov.au and to keep updated on warnings monitor the BoM website at www.bom.gov.au.