Secure housing to help keep remote health workers safe


Health workers on South Australia's Indigenous lands are set to get purpose-built accommodation as part of upgraded security following the murder of outback nurse Gayle Woodford.

The state government has allocated $5.2 million to improve safety for nurses and other medical officers across the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands under an agreement with the Nganampa Health Council.

The measures follow SA parliament's passing of Gayle's Law in 2017 and include a range of reforms to keep health staff safe, such as housing with added security features, and the recruitment of more support workers.

The accommodation unit is under construction in Alice Springs and will be delivered to site in Umuwa later this year.

The government recently opened a multi-agency support centre in Umuwa and will build police facilities in Indulkana, Fregon and Pipalyatjara.

Ms Woodford had lived in Fregon, 1275km north of Adelaide, and worked at the local clinic in the period before she was abducted, raped and murdered by Dudley Davey in 2016.

In his findings into her death, Deputy SA Coroner Anthony Schapel said it was perverse there was no permanent police presence in a town of such lawlessness.

Gayle's Law also required all health practitioners in remote areas to be accompanied by a second person when attending out-of-hours or unscheduled callouts.

Health Minister Chris Picton said the legislation was prompted by a horrendous murder that exposed gaps in the safety of hard-working remote nurses.

"We must do all we can to better protect our regional health workers," he said.

Nganampa Health Council manager Sue Haines said the funding agreement with the government would allow for an appropriately trained, managed and resourced second-responder workforce.

"Gayle's Law is an important piece of legislation that was brought in to strengthen the safety of remote health workers and this funding will support us to do exactly that," she said.