Better protections for emergency workers become law
Assaulting frontline health or emergency services workers will be met with tough new penalties, including up to 14 years in jail, under laws that came into force on Wednesday 19 October 2022.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said the new offences will better protect a range of key frontline workers who commit their working lives to keeping our community safe.
“These new laws reinforce the NSW Government’s commitment to strengthening frontline services and supporting those who selflessly serve in these critical roles,” Mr Perrottet said.
“This includes firefighters, paramedics, hospital medical staff, state emergency service workers, surf life savers and marine rescue volunteers.”
Deputy Premier and Minister for Police Paul Toole said the new offences carry the same penalties as existing penalties for assaults on police officers and correctional officers.
“This law sends a clear message that assaults and acts of violence against frontline health and emergency service workers are reprehensible and will not be tolerated,” Mr Toole said.
“This law also clarifies and provides consistency in the coverage of existing laws for assaulting, hindering or resisting emergency services workers including police officers and correctional officers.”
Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said the new legislation protects all paramedics, medical and security staff in hospitals, as well as pharmacists and their staff.
“Every person should be able to feel free and safe in their workplace,” Mr Hazzard said.
Attorney General Mark Speakman said this legislation is part of the NSW Government’s response to the NSW Sentencing Council’s report Assaults on Emergency Services Workers.
“The NSW Government supports all of the Sentencing Council’s recommendations in full or in principle and in this legislation has gone further in one critical respect,” Mr Speakman said.
“The NSW Government has ensured that firefighters from the NSW Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue NSW and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, pharmacy staff, community health workers and NSW State Emergency Service frontline workers are covered by the new offences, in recognition of the significant work they do for our community.”
Minister for Corrections Geoff Lee welcomed the strengthening of provisions for frontline staff in correctional centres.
“Under three new aggravated offences, anyone who assaults a corrections officer or youth justice officer during a riot faces harsher penalties under three new aggravated offences introduced in the legislation. The definition of ‘Law enforcement officers’ has been expanded to include staff providing education, health or rehabilitation services to prison inmates and detainees in youth detention centres,” Mr Lee said.
Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience and Minister for Flood Recovery Steph Cooke said violence and assaults against frontline and emergency services personnel is unacceptable.
“Whatever the emergency, our frontline workers, especially our volunteers, give their all to help people through the worst of times. They deserve our gratitude and respect, and they also need to know we have their backs,” Ms Cooke said.
“These laws ensure that those who perpetuate disgraceful acts of violence on our dedicated emergency services personnel face the appropriate consequences.”
The new offences range from up to 12 months in prison and/or a $2,200 fine, to a maximum 14 years’ jail for the worst offenders.