New laws protect frontline workers from abuse

New laws protect frontline workers from abuse

263
Frontline workers will be protected under the new Criminal Code Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Bill 2020. Photograph — Richard Polden.

New laws protect frontline workers from abuse Tough new penalties for people assaulting or mistreating frontline workers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic were passed in parliament last week.

The Criminal Code Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Bill 2020 will protect public officers and those delivering frontline services, including police officers, doctors, nurses, paramedics, bus drivers and prison officers.

Someone convicted of assaulting a frontline worker where they know they have coronavirus, or create a belief, suspicion or fear that they have it, will now face up to 10 years in jail.

Threats to injure, endanger or harm a frontline worker by exposing them to coronavirus now carries a higher maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment.

Canning Vale Quentin Flatman said no one has been charged since the legislation came into effect on April 4.

“Prior to this legislation being implemented, officers at Canning Vale have been subject to instances where individuals have deliberately sneezed at officers stating they have COVID-19,” he said.

“Other instances have occurred where police have attended houses during the normal course of the daily activities and spoken with residents, who, after a period of interaction with police, advise they are in isolation as they had travelled overseas within the previous 14 days, rather than declaring this information in the first instance.

“These actions have the potential to affect the frontline service delivery of police, who as a consequence may be forced to selfisolate.

“Sadly, these instances are not limited to public officers, with retail works reporting an increase in aggressive behaviour and deliberate actions.”