Under tough new legislation being introduced by the state Government in Queensland, Australia, anyone convicted of assault against a health worker could face up to 14 years in prison.
The law is part of the government’s Safe Night Out strategy that is aimed at tackling the problems of alcohol-fuelled violence and anti-social behaviour.
Introducing the new legislation, the Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said that the increased new penalties were as a direct response to the alarming statistics showing that in the past five years there have been 24,500 reports of violent incidents at work made by nurses, doctors and paramedics. The past twelve months alone saw the number of cases reported reach 4,400.
As part of the initiative the government is also going to be running an awareness campaign to highlight the tough new penalties. The campaign will feature some of the horrific injuries received by nurses, doctors and paramedics as a result of violent attacks against them.
The introduction of the law in Queensland follows similar legislation introduced by the government in Victoria back in June and August of this year.
In June, the Sentencing Amendment (Emergency Workers) Bill was introduced in Victoria to provide a statutory minimum sentence for assaults on emergency workers, including nurses, doctors and any other healthcare workers who provide emergency care. This was then swiftly followed by further legislation to recognise that attacks against health practitioners occur in a range of settings, not just in emergency departments, and to therefore amend the previous legislation to take account of this too.
Details of the new legislation designed to protect health workers in Queensland, along with a video for the campaign can be found here - A Safe Night Out at Work
An overview of the whole Safe Night Out strategy can be found on the Queensland Government website here - Safe Night Out