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Retailers welcome move to introduce tougher penalties for assaults on Tasmanian frontline workers

Pulse Tasmania
Peak retail body backs harsher penalties for assaults on frontline workers. Image / Alamy

Tasmania is set to join other states in implementing tougher penalties for people who assault frontline staff, including retail workers.

The state government’s proposed reforms will mean that those who cause serious bodily harm to Tasmania’s frontline workers will face a minimum of six months imprisonment.

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The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has welcomed the move, saying it’s a “strong first step” in protecting retail workers from abuse and violence.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra said all retail workers, from those in their first job to those working the night shift at a local store, have a right to feel safe at work.

“No one deserves to be intimidated or harassed or threatened with weapons, for simply doing their job,” he said.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra. Image / Dan Gray

“People who engage in these types of behaviours are committing a crime. It’s as simple as that.”

Zahra said mandatory minimum sentences act as a powerful deterrent against acts of violence and aggression towards frontline workers.

“The penalties proposed in this legislation send a clear message that such behaviour will not be tolerated, thereby deterring potential offenders from committing similar offences,” he said.

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However, the ARA would like to see the legislation go further and include assault and abuse that doesn’t necessarily result in serious bodily harm.

“Retail staff are increasingly being intimidated, harassed, shoved and spit on and it is important that these dreadful actions are included under the reforms,” Zahra said.

Minister Guy Barnett. Image / Pulse

The association says it’s enthusiastic about working with the Tasmanian Government as the new bill is introduced.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Guy Barnett said it is “totally unacceptable” for Tasmanians to be attacked while they work.

“Anyone who assaults our frontline workers – be it child safety officers, our correctional services officers, our firies, our security guards, our health workers and more – will feel the full force of the law if they seriously assault or harm a worker,” he said.

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