CPSU welcomes Bill to Protect Frontline Workers, Calls for more Comprehensive Safety Measures


The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has today welcomed moves by the Albanese Labor Government to better protect Commonwealth frontline workers through the creation of a national penalty provision.

The new provision will bring penalties for assaults on Commonwealth frontline workers, including those in Services Australia, the ATO and the Passport Office, into line with those for assaults on other essential workers such as paramedics and police officers.

This was a recommendation made in the Ashton Report, which was a review instigated by Minister Bill Shorten, after a Services Australia worker was attacked and stabbed while at work in May 2023.

The union is pleased to see the Government acting on one of the Ashton Report recommendations. However, they remain concerned that real safety and responses to all 44 recommendations cannot be achieved without safe staffing levels across all workplaces.

The CPSU is calling on the agency and the Government to work with them to implement recommendations that will prevent acts of violence and aggression from occurring in the first place.

Quotes attributable to Melissa Donnelly, CPSU National Secretary:

“Commonwealth frontline workers will be pleased to see this recommendation from the Ashton report being implemented.

“Assaults, threats and other acts of customer aggression are unacceptable and should not be tolerated in any workplace.

“In just the last two weeks our union has dealt with multiple reports of physical violence, threats toward workers and customers attending workplaces with weapons.

“Our members, who are deeply committed to their jobs, are often dealing with people at a very difficult or stressful time in their life.

“This pressure in addition to call wait times and claim processing backlogs can create a very difficult, and sometimes dangerous, situation for staff in customer facing roles.

“Our members deserve to be safe at work, and that can’t be guaranteed right now.

“We want to see the agency and the government doing everything they can to prevent these acts of aggression or violence from occuring in the first place.

“With the Ashton Report outlining 44 recommendations to enhance the safety of staff, the CPSU is ready to work with both the agency and the government to ensure every recommendation is swiftly and effectively implemented.

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