The NSW Government has announced reforms designed to better protect frontline workers.
People who assault frontline health workers, correctional and youth justice officers and emergency services staff and volunteers will face tougher penalties under new offences the government intends to legislate by the middle of this year.
The government will implement all of the recommendations in the NSW Sentencing Council’s report Assaults on Emergency Services Workers.
In 2020, Attorney General Mark Speakman asked the Sentencing Council to review the sentencing for offences involving assaults on police officers, correctional staff, youth justice officers, emergency services workers and health workers.
“Those who perpetrate disgraceful acts of violence on these dedicated individuals should face stringent consequences,” Mr Speakman said.
In preparing its report, the council consulted victims’ advocates, legal experts, the NSW Police Force, Corrective Services NSW and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Submissions were received from a range of stakeholders, including Legal Aid NSW, the Public Service Association of NSW and the Australian Medical Association (NSW).
The new offences covering assault of frontline workers will align with existing penalties for assaulting police officers and other law enforcement officers. Penalties for assaulting police range from 5 to 14 years imprisonment, depending on the type of harm caused.
An example of one of the new offences will be assaulting a frontline health worker occasioning actual bodily harm which will carry a maximum penalty of 7 years gaol.
The offences will only apply, however, if the conduct is committed “while in the execution of the worker’s duty.”