Australian government tightens laws on EMS assaults
After coming under fire for sparing two women jail time who were found guilty of attacking a paramedic, the Victorian government increased punishment for the offense
By EMS1 Staff
VICTORIA, Australia — The Victorian government will now classify assaults on EMS providers in the same category as murder.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that assaults on EMS providers that result in injuries are now classified as a category-one offense, which requires the court to impose jail time or time in a mental health facility on the offender.
The change was made after the government came under fire for sparing two women who were found guilty of attacking a paramedic of any jail time due to “special circumstances.”
The Police Association and the Ambulance Employees Association met with government officials and called for a change to the law that would ensure suspects be taken into custody for attacking first responders.
"This is about sending a very strong message — you will see a custodial sentence," Police Minister Lisa Neville said. "You might claim you've been drunk or on drugs, [that] will not allow you out of serving time."
Ambulance union secretary Steve McGhie said he thought placing EMS attacks in the same category as murder was an appropriate decision.
"They're there to care for people, not there to be used as punching bags and footballs," he said. "And if someone takes it upon themselves that that's what they think a paramedic is there for and they can punch them, spit at them, threaten them with knives, threaten them with guns … if they think that's acceptable then I think the full force of the law should come down on them.”
McGhie added that while he doesn’t think the new law will “fix the problem,” it will help.
“It'll certainly go a long way to sending a strong message that when people do take that action of assaulting emergency service workers, and certainly frontline health workers, then there are serious ramifications from that," he said.