Retailers welcome Victoria’s new laws to protect retail staff

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

The landmark reforms, that plan to be introduced in 2025 to Parliament, will see Victoria join South Australia, New South Wales, Northern Territory and Western Australia, in stepping up legislation in response to the growing prevalence of customer aggression and assaults.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra said the ARA has long advocated for these reforms to protect retail workers and urged Queensland and Tasmania as the remaining states and the ACT to follow suit.

“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.

“We’re extremely pleased that Premier Jacinta Allan has responded to our views and the Shop, Distributive Allied Employees Association (SDA), and, more importantly, the needs of retail workers by taking strong action to deter these violent incidents and keep our retail staff safe.

“We’re mindful that the majority of customers are respectful and do the right thing, but the small minority are making retail a dangerous environment to work in.”

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

Mr Zahra hopes the Victorian Government’s leadership in this space will serve as impetus for the few remaining jurisdictions to follow.

“This is a powerful example of the progress that can be made when all stakeholders work together with government for positive change,” Mr Zahra said.

Victoria has today joined a growing force for respect and protection of frontline retail workers – one we hope the remaining jurisdictions – Queensland, Tasmania and the ACT – will adopt.

“This initiative is warmly welcomed by our retail community. With this new legislation we are sending a strong message that this behaviour won’t be tolerated.”

“The ARA are pleased to be part of the consultation process announced today with the SDA and the National Retailers Association (NRA) to bring the bill before parliament in 2025.

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