The Fitzroy Legal Service, along with nineteen partner agencies, has provided a submission to all members of the Victorian Parliament urging them to reconsider the proposed amendments mandating imprisonment where injuries are sustained by emergency workers.
Announcements by the Andrews government have been followed by an indication of in-principal bi-partisan support. We confirm that to our knowledge, there has been no consultation in relation to impacts of the proposed approach with the broader community. This includes community organisations who routinely rely on collaborative relationships with emergency workers to preserve life, ensure safety, facilitate treatment, and intervene in unsafe environments. As community sector organisations, we support community members, their family members, carers, and organisations (health, housing, charitable), many of whom frequently either rely upon and/or are supported by emergency workers. We believe our concerns and experiences should be considered. Many of us are also frontline workers with direct experience of many of the contexts in which these laws may operate.
We strongly support measures that promote the safety of emergency service workers. We note the category of emergency workers is broad, extending from police members who have specialist training to engage in physical confrontations, and ‘operational equipment’ (i.e. weapons) that may be used should conflict escalate causing risk of injury, to nurses and paramedics working in emergency departments, who may rely on the presence of security guards and attendance of police to ensure safety in their workplace.
We recognise ambulance workers are exposed to special risks as the contextual circumstances they are likely to face on each job are often largely unknown. Though requiring significant allocation of resources, we strongly support multi-service response approaches to ameliorate risk of injury or harm to workers where appropriate.
We support the expanded collaboration between police and ambulance workers (and other emergency workers) to minimise risk of harm to frontline workers. Such an approach requires allocation of resources, but it is vital that frontline emergency workers are able to do their jobs without undue risk of personal harm.
We support the presence of security guards in emergency departments. If additional resources are required to ensure the safety of patients and staff, those resources should be made available. We support continued promotions that make clear that assaults of health practitioners, ambulance staff, and other emergency workers will not be tolerated.
Traditionally emergency workers, community sector workers, and court services have worked collaboratively to try to advance and support those objectives. Please consider whether proposed amendments will operate to undermine those collaborations and the shared outcomes we are seeking to further as a community with responsibilities to our most vulnerable.
The submission can be viewed here.
Fitzroy Legal Service
Darebin Community Legal Centre
St Kilda Legal Service
Peninsula Community Legal Centre
Law & Advocacy Centre for Women
Villamanta Disability Rights Legal Service
Moonee Valley Legal Service
Federation of Community Legal Centres
Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association
Aboriginal Catholic Ministry for Victoria
Eastern Community Legal Centre
Democracy in Colour
Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service
Goulburn Valley Community Legal Centre
Yarra Drug and Health Form
Mental Health Legal Centre
Women's Legal Service Victoria
Inner Melbourne Community Legal
Criminal Bar Association
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