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Western Australia's Tough New Penalties for Assaulting Retail Workers

 

As a result of extensive campaigning from the SDA, WA now has tough new penalties for assaulting retail workers.

These laws come into effect from 1 July 2024.

The new laws will mean that assaulting a retail or fast food worker will have tougher new consequences – with a doubling of fines and much higher maximum imprisonment sentences.

  • If dealt with summarily by a magistrate, a maximum penalty of $36,000 and/or three years in prison (double the current penalties for assaults)
  • If sent to a district court, a maximum penalty of seven years in prison
  • If a perpetrator is armed or in the company of others, ten years in prison

As Ben Harris, SDA WA Secretary put it, “This recognises the importance of the work done by our members and the significance of the harm that is done by customer violence.”

Good discussions ensued with the government and on 13th February 2024, Premier Roger Cook and Attorney General John Quigley announced that the Labor Government would introduce legislation along the lines sought by the SDA.

Premier Cook said in a statement at the time:

“Retail workers are essential for our economy and our community. Everyone has a right to feel safe in their workplace, but unfortunately, we’ve seen an increase in acts of violence against retail workers. My Government won’t tolerate these disgraceful acts against retail workers. These laws send a strong message to violent thugs – you will be held accountable for your actions.”

The legislation was called the Criminal Code Amendment Bill 2024 and it was passed the Legislative Assembly on 18th April and the Legislative Council on 7th May.

The SDA is grateful to the thousands of workers, members of the community, the Cook Labor Government, as well as many major employers and their representatives who supported the campaign.