26 September 2023

New offence laws to protect frontline workers

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People who assault frontline health and emergency services workers could face tougher penalties under new laws.

Introducing the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Assaults on Frontline Emergency and Health Workers) Bill 2022, Attorney General Mark Speakman said the Bill was part of the State’s response to the NSW Sentencing Council’s July 2020 report Assaults on Emergency Services Workers.

“Every person should be able to feel safe in their workplace, including health and emergency services workers who perform an essential public service for our community, in difficult circumstances and often at personal risk,” Mr Speakman said.

“Acts of violence on emergency services and frontline workers in the course of their duties are unacceptable,” he said.

“Those who perpetrate disgraceful acts of violence on these dedicated individuals should face serious criminal punishment.”

Mr Speakman said the Bill would strengthen criminal law protections for frontline workers as distinct and grave offences.

“The new offences recognise that acts of violence against these workers merit express and distinct recognition, and higher penalties than currently available under the general assault provisions in the Crimes Act 1900,” the Attorney General said.

“The new offences align with existing penalties for assaulting NSW police officers and other law enforcement officers.”

He said the State was supporting, in full or in principle, all of the NSW Sentencing Council’s recommendations.

“In addition, the NSW Government’s amendments go further by ensuring that firefighters from the NSW Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue NSW and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, pharmacy staff, community health workers, NSW State Emergency Service frontline workers and other specified emergency workers will also be covered by the new offences,” Mr Speakman said.

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