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What is Safewards?

Safewards is a program that encourages staff and clients (including carers, family, and support people) to work together to make the ward safer for everyone. Safer means a calmer and more positive place.

Use of the Safewards program in other Australian states and territories has been associated with reduced events involving conflict, with the most improvements seen in adults and youth mental health wards. It has also had an impact on staff and consumers feeling safer and more positive in inpatient environments.

The Consumer and Carers Quarterly Forum invited speakers from Victoria to present on the program. Watch the recording of this presentation below to learn more about Safewards. The Consumer and Carers Quarterly Forum is supported by the Mental Health Consumer Network, Mental Health Community Coalition, Carers ACT and the Public Advocate and Children and Young People Commissioner, ACT Health.

Safewards uses 10 simple actions

These are actions staff and clients can do to reduce conflict. Click the image below to learn about each action.

10 simple actions

Why is it important?

Sometimes conflicts happen on a ward that can cause distress. ‘Conflict’ in Safewards represents violence, suicide and acts of self-harm, alcohol or drug use and absconding (leaving the ward without permission and missing out on care). It also covers the breaking of basic rules such as refusing to see care workers or smoking in areas that may lead to arguments with staff or other patients.

This can lead to staff dealing with a conflict by moving clients to a more secure unit, restraining them or even seclusion. Safewards aims to lessen the use of these methods. It aims to support staff and clients working together to make facilities and wards more peaceful and friendly, and therefore safer for everyone.

Safewards is being trialled in the ACT

Safewards is currently being trialled at four inpatient wards across the ACT:

  • Canberra Hospital Ward 7B General Medical ward
  • Canberra Hospital Adult Acute Mental Health Unit
  • Calvary Public Hospital Ward 4W General Medical Ward
  • Calvary Public Hospital Older Person Mental Health Inpatient unit

Findings and outcomes of the six-month trial will be used to consider broader implementation of the Safewards program across the ACT’s public health system.

How can I find out more?

If you, or a person you know, is admitted to one of the trial wards talk with the nurse in charge about any questions you have.

To contact the project implementation team email

Page last updated on: 12 Jan 2021