Assaults On Emergency Workers In Victoria To Be Treated As Seriously As Murder

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews announced today a crackdown on people who assault emergency workers, with new laws meaning jail time for assailants.

What you need to know
  • Assaults on emergency workers in Victoria will be treated as seriously as murder
  • Courts will no longer be able to consider being under the influence of drugs or alcohol as an excuse
  • "If you injure a paramedic, then jail means jail," says premier Daniel Andrews
  • A paramedic is assaulted every 50 hours, according to Ambulance Victoria

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced Tuesday a massive crackdown on people who assault emergency workers, bringing in new laws that would see such assaults treated as seriously as rape and murder.

The changes will see assaults against paramedics, police officers, firefighters and healthcare workers, as well as those supporting emergency care like doctors and nurses, treated as category 1 offences.

It will require courts to impose a prison sentence, rather than imposing a lighter community based order.

It also means that courts will no longer be able to consider being under the influence of drugs or alcohol an excuse for violent behaviour, and must give significantly less weight to the life circumstances of the offender.

"We will do everything we can to protect those who protect us," said Andrews in a statement.

"This sends the strongest possible message -- attack and injure an emergency worker, you will go to jail."

Minister for Ambulance Services Jill Hennessy supported the changes, describing the violence faced by paramedics on the job as "not acceptable".

"Paramedics go to work to save lives," she said. "It is not acceptable that they are attacked just for doing their job."

It comes after community outrage over two women who drunkenly bashed two paramedics in 2016 -- one of whom required three operations and still can't work -- and escaped jail time.

Amanda Warren, 33, and Caris Underwood, 21, were sentenced to several months' jail for assaulting paramedics Paul Judd and Chenaye Bentley, but had their sentences squashed on appeal last week.

"I just feel that justice hasn't been done," a teary Judd told media afterwards.

Andrews personally called both Judd and Bentley to apologise on behalf of all Victorians, saying that the law had denied them justice.

It's estimated that up to 95 percent of healthcare workers will experience physical or verbal attacks during the course of their work, according to the Victorian Government.

"My paramedics are assaulted every 50 hours," Ambulance Victoria chief Tony Walker told 3AW last week. "That is not acceptable in any workplace and it's not acceptable in mine."

A recent report found that between 2001 and 2014, the number of serious injuries from violence-related cases went from five to 40 per year, making the paramedical professional the most dangerous in Australia.

Some believe those figures could be even higher, with one experienced paramedic telling Ten Eyewitness News last month that the real figures could be double or even triple what's being reported.