SA Government watering down on Gayle’s Law outrageous: SA-BEST

13 June 2019

SA-BEST today labelled as outrageous plans by the State Government to back-track on Gayle’s Law - a law named in honour of a nurse murdered in remote South Australia.

The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (South Australia) (Remote Area Attendance) Amendment Act 2017 - known as “Gayle’s Law” – is named in honour of Gayle Woodford, who was murdered while working in the remote APY Lands of SA's far north in March 2016.

The laws - which were passed by Parliament on 28 November 2017 - require remote area nurses to work in pairs when attending after-hours callouts and is intended to reduce isolation and improve safety for health workers and practitioners, particularly in remote areas.

In November last year, SA-BEST revealed Gayle’s Law had still not been enforced 12 months after being passed through Parliament. 

After questioning by SA-BEST MLC and health spokesperson, Connie Bonaros, it was also revealed the government’s consultation process with stakeholders only commenced in November of last year - again almost a year after the legislation was passed.

At the time, the Woodford family expressed its regret and dismay at the fact that the legislation was not in force and that it hadn’t been consulted by the Marshall Liberal Government. 

During the consultation phase, SA-BEST provided the government with a submission highlighting a number of very significant concerns it hoped would be addressed in the regulations.

This included concerns around potential inconsistencies in the application of the regulations for different health practitioners and policies and procedures and questions of liability following any risk assessment undertaken. 

The delayed response by Health Minister, Stephen Wade, did not adequately address the concerns raised by SA-BEST.  

“To add insult to injury, the Marshall Government has introduced regulations which allow SA Health nurses to go to public places without a colleague in a number of circumstances - including where a risk assessment has been undertaken on the person they are to treat,” Connie said.

“These regulations water down and severely undermine the very protections we sought to offer our remote area nurses and Gayle’s family who have fought so hard for these reforms.  It’s just another kick in the guts”, she said.

“This is outrageous - the Marshall Government should hang it’s head in absolute shame.

“It’s high time the Marshall Government treated Gayle’s Law with the respect and honour it deserves.

“Ms Woodford died in tragic circumstances doing her job.  It was a job that she did selflessly for a community she loved. We owe it to her to get these laws right.”

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