Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 12 Hansard (23 October) . . Page.. 4177 ..
Wednesday, 23 October 2019
MADAM SPEAKER (Ms J Burch) took the chair at 10 am, made a formal recognition that the Assembly was meeting on the lands of the traditional custodians, and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.
Crimes (Offences Against Frontline Community Service Providers) Amendment Bill 2019
Mrs Jones, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.
Title read by Clerk.
MRS JONES (Murrumbidgee) (10.01): I move:
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
I am pleased to present today the Crimes (Offences Against Frontline Community Service Providers) Amendment Bill 2019 to the Legislative Assembly. The bill is a comprehensive approach to tackling the increasing number of attacks on our frontline personnel. The bill creates three new standalone offences and introduces aggravated offences for offences that cause harm to those who serve on our front line.
Police officers, paramedics, firefighters, nurses, doctors and prison guards are all included in and protected by the bill because these workers are those who continue to be attacked in their workplaces, particularly during this term of government. These are the people who we have defined as frontline community service providers for the purposes of the bill.
These hardworking men and women in uniform work in highly stressful, and at times quite dangerous, jobs. They operate in volatile situations and are regularly required to attend emergency situations, providing aid and security. They do this for our community each and every day. In this term alone, we have seen many disturbing incidents of attacks on all of these types of personnel. Last year a nurse was stabbed in the Canberra Hospital car park.
Nurses report to me that security measures at the hospital are ineffective due to the scope of practice of security guards and because security will not cross the road with them to walk them to their cars. They are being trained in self-defence; five foot nothing, almost at retirement age. Nurses are expected to be the only people able to touch patients when they are in a volatile or violent episode.
Just yesterday one of our sergeants in a police station here in Canberra was preparing to prosecute a patient who knifed one of our ambulance officers. The only offence available to him to charge under was common assault. Nurses are semi-regularly attacked at both the secure mental health unit and the adult mental health unit. As much as all of us would like this to stop entirely, we understand that what we need to