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  3. 10. General
  4. 10.11 Staff safety and well-being
  5. Key steps
  6. 2. Implement strategies to avoid client aggression

2. Implement strategies to avoid client aggression

Before contact with clients, staff should always adhere to risk management processes and endeavour to use their communication skills in preventing or defusing hostility. If there is a duress alarm system in place, become familiar with the procedures for use. Duress alarm systems are tested on a regular basis by a person delegated by a Senior Workplace Health and Safety Advisor. Testing is also recommended prior to the attendance of a high-risk client, where advisors will monitor the test.

To avoid client aggression at the office:

  • ensure reception points are attended promptly when clients arrive or are waiting
  • greet clients politely and with respect
  • identify others who may be called upon to deal with known aggressive clients
  • obtain advice from others in the office if you cannot answer a client's query
  • maintain a professional approach and endeavour to keep your composure if the client is offensive or abusive
  • offer to have your line manager attend to the client if you are uncomfortable with a situation.

To avoid client aggression away from the office, for example, during home visits, supervised family contact visits or when transporting clients:

  • collate relevant information about the clients and their situation, for example, access electronic and paper files, other staff and the QPS
  • determine the degree of risk involved, and where appropriate, insist on being accompanied by another departmental officer
  • use assistance from the QPS, if there is information that suggests there may be personal risk
  • advise a team leader of the arrangements before departing and seek approval for the arrangements
  • comply with the 'staff whereabouts' process and always ensure that a team leader knows the destination and expected time of return
  • carry a mobile phone, GPS tracking phone or, particularly in rural or remote areas, a satellite phone and consider pre-setting numbers that could be useful.

Additionally, when planning supervised family contact visits:

  • choose a venue that is safe and accessible to others
  • consider meeting at a departmental premise if a significant risk has been identified in conducting the visit away from the CSSC
  • ensure that those involved in the supervised visit are fully aware of the arrangements beforehand, for example, who is to be present, the time, date and location and the expected conduct of those involved
  • end the visit if the client becomes abusive or aggressive
  • where appropriate, reschedule the contact to a later time
  • call for assistance if necessary.

For further information refer to the practice paper, Working with parents who demonstrate hostile and aggressive behaviour