Retailers welcome Tasmania’s new laws to protect retail staff, call for alignment with other states

Australia’s peak retail body, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), has welcomed the Tasmanian Government’s plans to introduce legislation to implement tougher penalties for people who assault frontline staff, including retail workers.

The landmark reforms will see Tasmania join South Australia, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Western Australia and Victoria in stepping up legislation in response to the growing prevalence of customer aggression and assaults.

Under the changes, those who cause serious bodily harm to Tasmania’s frontline workers will face a minimum of six months imprisonment for the offence.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra said the Tasmanian legislation is a strong first step in protecting frontline workers but more is needed to protect retail workers from abuse and violence that doesn’t cause serious physical harm.

“All retail workers, whether they’re a casual in their first job in a department store or doing the night shift at the local convenience store, have a right to feel safe at work,” Mr Zahra said.

“No one deserves to be intimidated or harassed or threatened with weapons, for simply doing their job. People who engage in these types of behaviours are committing a crime – it’s as simple as that.

“This is a strong first step by Premier Jeremy Rockliff in protecting retail workers, sending a message that violent assaults against frontline workers won’t be tolerated.

“Mandatory minimum sentences serve as a powerful deterrent against acts of violence and aggression towards frontline workers. The penalties proposed in this legislation send a clear message that such behaviour will not be tolerated, thereby deterring potential offenders from committing similar offences.

“However, we would like to see legislation align with other states to include assault and abuse that doesn’t necessarily result in serious bodily harm. Retail staff are increasingly being intimidated, harassed, shoved and spit on and it is important that these dreadful actions are included under the reforms.

The ARA has previously joined forces with the SDA, calling on state and federal jurisdictions across the country to implement much-needed reforms.

The ARA are enthusiastic to work with the Tasmanian Government in consultation as the Bill is introduced.

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