Key messages

  • There is legislative guidance for health services about how to keep people with mental illness safe from weapons.
  • Health services should partner with local police to develop firearms policies and educate staff.

Victorian legislation provides clear guidance for all health services and staff charged with keeping people with mental illnesses safe from weapons and other dangerous articles.

While the Firearms Act 1996 ordains that only police have the right to search for or confiscate firearms, the law provides a number of safeguards to help health services maintain a safe environment for consumers, visitors and staff. These include:

  • clearly communicating that firearms are not permitted within public health facilities
  • imposing a consent to be searched for weapons as a condition of entry.

Under the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, health staff are encouraged to undertake risk assessments with specific clients and, if necessary, to seek police assistance and advice to ensure they do not endanger themselves or others.

Amendments to the Firearms Act and the Control of Weapons Act 1990 also allow for specific health professionals, health service security staff and ambulance workers to take possession of a firearm or other weapon in the course of their duties, under specific circumstances.

Partnering with police to manage weapons

Health services are strongly encouraged to establish formal partnerships with their local police to help them develop their own firearms policies and educate their staff on the deterrence, detection and management of weapons in the workplace.