26 September 2023

New laws to protect emergency workers

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People who assault frontline health workers, correctional and youth justice officers and emergency services staff and volunteers are to face tougher penalties under new offences.

Announced by Premier Dominic Perrottet, the new offences are to be introduced later this year in response to recommendations made by the NSW Sentencing Council in its July 2021 in its report Assaults on Emergency Services Workers.

Mr Perrottet said the State was supporting, in full or in principle, all of the Report’s recommendations.

“Government will go further than the recommendations from the report by ensuring that firefighters from the NSW Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue NSW and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, and NSW State Emergency Service frontline workers will be covered by the new offences,” Mr Perrottet said.

“Our frontline emergency workers perform an essential public service in keeping our community safe and protecting lives, property and health,” the Premier said.

“They keep us safe and we will do whatever we can to keep them safe too.”

Mr Perrottet said he aimed to introduce legislation to give effect to the reforms by mid-2022.

Minister for Police, Paul Toole said the new offences of assaulting frontline workers would align with existing penalties for assaulting NSW police officers and other law enforcement officers.

“Our frontline emergency service workers, including our men and women in blue, put their lives on the line every day, going above and beyond to protect and serve the community,” Mr Toole said.

“Aligning the penalties for assaulting emergency service workers with the penalties for assaulting NSW police officers reflects their importance in our community, and will help safeguard against unruly culprits who think they are above the law,” he said.

Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said the creation of new offences for assaulting frontline health workers would help protect paramedics and hospital staff who have committed their working lives to saving lives.

“No one deserves to be assaulted, whatever the circumstances, but anyone who commits a violent attack on health professionals trying to care for them is committing an appalling crime,” Mr Hazzard said.

The State’s six-page response to the Sentencing Council’s Report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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