Retailers welcome NSW’s tougher penalties for assaults on retail workers

Australia’s peak retail body, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), has welcomed the New South Wales Government’s new legislation to implement tougher penalties for people who assault or abuse retail workers.  

The landmark reforms, being introduced to Parliament today, will see New South Wales and South Australia lead the way in legislating in response to the growing prevalence of customer aggression and assaults.  

ARA CEO Paul Zahra praised the NSW Government’s commitment to protecting retail workers and consulting with industry via the ARA on the development of the initiative.  

“We’ve seen a frightening escalation in retail crime, where it is now becoming a matter of life-or-death for workers simply trying to do their job,” Mr Zahra said.  

“It is shocking that in recent months in different locations across the country, we’ve seen several retail workers stabbed – in addition to the broader issue of staff being harassed, intimidated, and physically assaulted.  

“Actions speak louder than words, and we’re extremely pleased that the New South Wales Government has listened to our views and the needs of retail workers and is taking strong action to deter these violent incidents and keep retail staff safe.  

“We’re mindful that the majority of customers are respectful and do the right thing, but the small minority are making retail a dangerous environment to work in.” 

In March, the ARA joined forces with the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA), calling on state and federal jurisdictions across the country to implement similar reforms to South Australia. 

Mr Zahra hopes the NSW Government’s new legislation will serve as a precedent for other jurisdictions to follow.  

“This is a powerful example of the progress that can be made when all stakeholders work together with government for positive change. The New South Wales and South Australian Governments have set a strong example – one we hope other governments across the country will adopt,” Mr Zahra said.  

“This initiative is warmly welcomed by our retail community. With this new legislation we are sending a strong message that this behaviour won’t be tolerated.” 

The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Assaults on Retail Workers) Bill 2023 will introduce three new offences into the Crimes Act 1900. 

The reforms make it an offence to: 

  • assault, throw a missile at, stalk, harass or intimidate a retail worker in the course of the worker’s duty, even if no actual bodily harm is caused to the worker, with a maximum penalty of 4 years’ imprisonment.
  • assault a retail worker in the course of the worker’s duty and cause actual bodily harm to the worker, with a maximum penalty of 6 years’ imprisonment.
  • wound or cause grievous bodily harm to a retail worker in the course of the worker’s duty, being reckless as to causing actual bodily harm to the worker or another person, with a maximum penalty of 11 years’ imprisonment.

ENDS 

Media Enquiries:  

M 0434 381 670  

E media@retail.org.au  

 

 

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