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Laws To Be Fixed So Jail Means Jail For Emergency Worker Attacks

22 May 2018

Anyone who attacks and injures an emergency worker will receive a custodial sentence, with the Andrews Labor Government to toughen statutory minimum prison sentencing laws and further limit the use of community corrections orders.

Following recent sentences, it has become clear that the statutory minimum prison sentencing laws put in place by the previous Liberal Government are not working.

Our police, paramedics, firefighters and other emergency workers help keep us safe – attacks on them are always unacceptable and our changes will ensure that is properly reflected in the law. There are three key elements to the reforms that will be introduced to Parliament in the coming weeks:

  • Attacks resulting in injuries against emergency workers, including police, paramedics, firefighters and health workers delivering or supporting emergency care, like nurses and doctors, will now be treated as category 1 offences and will require Courts to impose a custodial sentence, not a community based order such as a CCO.
  • The special reasons exception which applies to all statutory minimum prison sentences will be substantially narrowed so that impairment due to alcohol or drugs can no longer be used as an excuse, psychosocial immaturity will be removed as a special reason, and the court must give significantly less weight to the life circumstances of the offender
  • The rights of the Director of Public Prosecutions will be strengthened so she can appeal where the narrowed special reasons exception is found to exist.

The exact details about how this will operate for juveniles will be agreed to between the Government and The Police Association Victoria and the Ambulance Employees Australia Victoria over coming months.

These changes make clear that the will of the Parliament, reflecting the will of the public, is that people who attack and injure our emergency workers should go to prison.

These laws – which were put in place by the former Liberal government – will be changed to ensure that offenders cannot rely just on the fact that they were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of offending to avoid a statutory minimum sentence. We said that we’d fix these laws and that’s exactly what we are doing.

Quote attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

“We will do everything we can to protect those who protect us. This sends the strongest possible message – if you attack and injure an emergency worker, you will go to jail.”

Quote attributable to Attorney General Martin Pakula

“These laws – which were introduced by the former Liberal Government – are clearly deficient. We are going to fix them, just like we did with their flawed baseline sentencing regime and CCO laws.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Ambulance Services Jill Hennessy

“Paramedics go to work to save lives. It is not acceptable that they are attacked just for doing their job.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Police Lisa Neville

“Police spend their lives keeping the community safe. These tough news laws will close the loophole so offenders can’t avoid jail because of a technicality.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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