People who assault emergency workers will face imprisonment under tough new laws introduced into Parliament this week.
Attorney General Jill Hennessy said the Sentencing Amendment (Emergency Worker Harm) Bill 2020 required courts to impose a sentence of imprisonment in all cases where an offender injured an emergency worker on duty, except in very narrow circumstances of mental impairment.
“It’s simply unacceptable that the people who dedicate their lives to keeping us safe could be intentionally injured – or worse – just by doing their job,” Ms Hennessy said.
“We’re making sure the protections for emergency workers are crystal clear and ensuring that a departure from the statutory minimum sentence is reserved for the most exceptional circumstances,” she said.
“The Bill also makes clear that offenders will not be able to rely on a special reason of impaired mental functioning, even where they have an underlying condition.”
Ms Hennessy said that in recognition of the complexity of the laws, the Office of Public Prosecutions would prosecute all offences with a statutory minimum sentence in the higher courts.
“This will also facilitate the development of specialisation in the prosecution of these complex cases,” she said.
“The reforms will also confirm that interstate emergency workers on duty in Victoria are protected under the legislation.”
Ms Hennessy said the reforms were developed with the Emergency Worker Harm Reference Group, which included representatives from emergency service organisations and unions, as well as the Office of Public Prosecutions and the Department of Health and Human Services.