Health services’ policies and procedures relating to the management of firearms and non-firearm weapons must comply with the Firearms Act 1996 and the Control of Weapons Act 1990.
Under these Acts, all Victorian public health services should ensure that:
- they consult their local police and legal counsel when developing or reviewing their weapons management policies and procedures
- their policies and procedures specify which workers are exempt from firearms regulations and in what circumstances, for example, security contractors
- policies include information about what is meant by a ‘prohibited person’ (a person convicted of an indictable offence or assault, or subject to a final order under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 or the Stalking Intervention Orders Act 2008)
- employment processes are in place to keep the health service informed of any current or potential employees who are ‘prohibited persons’
- staff members are aware of their responsibilities under the Firearms Act and the Control of Weapons Act and policies and procedures reflect and support their lawful actions
- joint agreements are in place with local police regarding processes for the safe storage of weapons awaiting collection by the police
- processes are in place for accurate reporting and reviewing of incidents where health workers need to take possession of a firearm or other weapon.
Exemptions in the law
Health workers may be exempt from committing an offence when possessing a firearm or weapon if it is:
- given to them by a consumer
- removed from a consumer
- found in their vicinity
- given to them by a health worker who has taken possession of it in one of these circumstances.
The exemptions apply only to health professionals, health service security guards and ambulance workers specified in the new sections of the Acts. The exemptions do not apply to a health worker who is a ‘prohibited person’.
The amendments require the police to be notified as soon as possible after a health worker has taken possession of a weapon. The weapon should then be collected by the police in accordance with agreed local policies and procedures.