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New reforms to be introduced to better protect frontline workers

The NSW government has committed to introducing tougher penalties for those who assault frontline workers, in a move to put a stop to the “appalling” and “disgraceful” offences.

user iconLauren Croft 14 April 2022 Politics
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People who assault frontline health workers, correctional and youth justice officers and emergency services staff and volunteers will face tougher penalties under newly defined crimes the NSW government has said it will introduce this year.

The NSW government is supporting, in full or in principle, all of the recommendations in the NSW Sentencing Council’s report Assaults on Emergency Services Workers.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said the NSW government would 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.


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

“We are committed to increasing protections for our emergency services workers and ensuring that sentencing for assaults and other actions against these workers is appropriate. They keep us safe and we will do whatever we can to keep them safe too.”

The new offences of assaulting frontline workers will align with existing penalties for assaulting NSW police officers and other law enforcement officers, according to Deputy Premier and Minister for Police Paul Toole.  

“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,” he 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.”

In addition, Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said the creation of new offences for assaulting frontline health workers would also help protect paramedics and hospital staff.

“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,” he said.

Attorney-General Mark Speakman said the state’s frontline emergency workers have dealt with some difficult challenges in the past two years – and that these proposed reforms will help further protect them.

“Our frontline health workers, emergency services staff, and correctional and youth justice officers often face risks as they bravely serve our community,” he said.

“Those who perpetrate disgraceful acts of violence on these dedicated individuals should face stringent consequences.”

The government aims to introduce legislation to give effect to these reforms by mid-2022.

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