Increased Penalties to Protect Emergency Workers

May 4, 2012

lightsThe Victorian Government has announced plans to increase sentences for offenders who attack police, ambulance officers, fire fighters and other emergency workers, including nurses and doctors in hospital emergency departments.

Under the intended legislation, people who inflict serious injury on an emergency worker will attract an automatic additional twelve-month imprisonment, in addition to whatever sentence would otherwise apply. Attackers who inflict less serious injuries will be sentenced to at least six months imprisonment, and those convicted of murdering an emergency worker will face an additional five years in jail.

The Government’s effort to support emergency workers is to be commended. However, while it has stated that some exceptions will be created such as for those with serious mental illness, we do have reservations that a wholesale enforcement may create undeserving victims. These exceptions will need to be very carefully and thoughtfully crafted so as to ensure that some of the most vulnerable of society are not unreasonably affected.

The Government plans to introduce the proposed legislation to Parliament as soon as possible.

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