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No One Deserves A Serve

About The Campaign

In December 2017, the SDA officially launched the No One Deserves A Serve campaign to create awareness about retail and fast food workers facing constant abusive and violent behaviour from customers at work.

The initial survey which accompanied the launch of the campaign received responses from over 6000 workers about their experiences with customer abuse and violence.

The results were damning.

Customer violence and abuse was – and still remains – a serious health and safety issue for SDA members and workers in the retail and fast food industries.

No One Deserves A Serve began as a promotional tool used to remind shoppers and customers to treat retail and fast food workers with respect.

While our ads and promotional material on social media have continued and enjoyed success, the campaign itself has evolved and developed into an important part of the SDA’s work and a movement that actively secures measures effective in curbing customer abuse and violence – these include training, incident reporting, customer signage, banning notices and increased security.

Read our full report for 2023 here.

New statistics – SDA survey 2023

The 2023 survey of over 4,600 workers found that the prevalence of abuse and violence by customers has not improved since the previous surveys.

In the last 12 months:
» 87% of workers said they had experienced verbal abuse from a customer. Both 2016 and 2021 surveys recorded 88%.

» Workers experienced an increase in the frequency of verbal abuse over a sustained period of time, rather than just isolated events. Of those who experienced verbal abuse, 76% experienced it on a more regular basis (monthly, weekly, daily) compared with 54% in 2021.

» 12.5% of respondents said they had been the victim of physical violence from a customer, compared with 8% in the 2021 survey.

» 9% of respondents said they had been spat on.

» 10% of respondents experienced customer abuse online, double the results of the 2021 survey

» 17% of respondents reported that the incidents of customer abuse and violence they experienced were of a sexual nature, compared to 10.65% in the 2021 survey. The prevalence is higher among female workers (19%) compared to male workers (9%), with young female workers at particular risk.

» Repeat offenders is still a significant issue for workers, with 52% of workers reporting that the same customer was abusive or violent towards them on more than one occasion (compared to the 2021 result of 38.5%).

For the first time, the 2023 survey also asked whether workers had experienced abuse, harassment or violence from a customer that referenced their ethnicity, race or cultural background. 24% of workers responded that they had.

Watch to learn more about our Campaign

Key Progress

  • Hosted two national roundtables bringing industry groups and employers together to work towards industry wide solutions
  • Nationwide launch of two retail focused advertisements calling out abusive and violent customers in 2017
  • SDA consultations with employers and launch of “Don’t Bag Retail Staff” advertising in select states phasing out plastic bags
  • SDA briefing Federal and State Members of Parliament and Senators about the issue
  • A literature review on solutions for occupational violence in retail and fast food industries
  • Nationwide launch of fast food specific advertisements calling on customers to respect workers
  • Working with individual employers on their specific policies and training
  • A world first trial of preventative measures using retail and fast food stores in NSW, in partnership with icare and Griffith University
  • SDA survey with the Australian Human Rights Commission on sexual harassment, including abuse perpetrated by customers.
  • All Major employers have signed on to SDA Industry Statement calling for zero tolerance to abuse and violence
  • Coughing and spitting fines in New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory
  • Survey of SDA members on their experiences with customer abuse and violence throughout COVID-19
  • Survey of retail and fast food employers on experiences of customer abuse and violence and effectiveness of safety measures.
  • Campaign endorsed by MP’s and Senators across Australia

In an industry first, retail and fast food employers, peak retailer groups, shopping centres, regulators, government and unions are joining forces to eradicate customer abuse in Australian shops.

The SDA’s industry statement has been signed by a range of industry groups including the National Retailer Association, the Australian Retailers Association.

The statement has also been signed by major employers including Coles, Woolworths, McDonalds, Bunnings, Aldi, Kmart, Hungry Jacks, Bakers Delight, Myer, David Jones, The Reject Shop, and many more. All signatories to date can be found on the statement below.

The SDA National Secretary, Gerard Dwyer said “We’re proud to see so many employers – large and small – signing this commitment in support of ending customer abuse in their workplaces.

“This is an important and unprecedented move to tackle the customer abuse epidemic in Australia.

“Employers need to be taking a zero tolerance approach towards customer abuse.”

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the health and safety in workplaces was well documented and expectedly significant.

Australia’s essential workers, many of whom are SDA members, continually had to adapt and adjust according to the changing recommendations and workplace practices introduced to curb the spread of the virus. The SDA’s 10 Point Safety Plans were critical in guiding HSR’s, SDA Delegates and members during a testing period.

There were also indirect impacts to workplace health and safety driven by the pandemic.

Customer violence and abuse increased exponentially at the beginning and throughout the peak of the pandemic in Australia.

According to the National Retail Association’s report into the health and wellbeing of retail workers, there was a sharp increase in customer violence and aggression, with some retailers reporting up to 400 per cent increase in aggression and abuse.

As a result, the No One Deserves A Serve campaign became about addressing the the impact of covid on the prevalence and nature of abuse and violence in the workplace.

Combatting customer abuse and violence became an important part of the SDA’s 10 point health and safety plans.

The SDA called for employers to:

  • Increase security to assist with physical distancing measures, and abusive and aggressive customers.
  • Take a zero tolerance approach to customer violence and abuse and publicly promote the SDA’s No One Deserves A Serve campaign to improve customer behaviour.

The SDA also conducted two surveys, one for employees and the other for employers to gauge the levels and nature of customer abuse and violence during the pandemic.

With almost every state experiencing mini lockdowns to control outbreaks, it was important that the union maintained strong, consistent messaging and acted early before panic buying and the associated issues occurred.

Thank A Supermarket Worker

The SDA’s ‘Thank a supermarket worker’ campaign celebrated the amazing and selfless efforts of our essential retail workers throughout the pandemic.

It was also launched to try and change the publics attitude and behaviour toward workers while shopping. A reminder to shoppers of the essential work they were doing on the frontline of the pandemic and the respect they deserved for putting their health and safety at risk.


Safety Demands Action Week is an annual event where the SDA dedicates an entire week to safety at the workplace.

A major aspect of safety for retail and fast food workers is related to their interactions with customers and that is why the No One Deserves a Serve campaign is a very important part of Safety Demands Action Week.

Watch our NODAS x Safety Demands Action Week video below:


The SDA regularly surveys retail, fast food and warehouse workers to generate data on the nature and prevalence of customer violence and abuse.

The information collected via these surveys guides the Union’s response and helps identify the issues.

It also provides the Union with evidence of the abuse and violence and the experiences of members and workers.

Petitions are used to collect stories and anecdotes from SDA members and workers about their personal experiences of abuse and violence at work.

This provides members with a platform to tell their stories as well as gives the SDA greater insight into the issues beyond data and statistics.

The stories are also used in NODAS campaigns are are very powerful resources.

Petitions give members an opportunity to show their support for SDA campaigns and make a contribution to the Union’s work.

Member Stories


You have the right to work in a safe environment. And reporting abusive and violent customer behaviour is one of the best ways for you to stay safe.

If you’re unsure what to do if a customer is abusive or violent: call your supervisor or manager to help.

Reporting is the key to action:

• It helps determine how often abuse and violence is happening in your store
• It means your employer should provide you with appropriate support
• It provides useful data to help protect the health and safety of workers.

If you need help addressing the issue of reporting in your store, speak to the SDA.

The SDA calls on employers to do everything they can to prevent abuse and violence from customers and ensure workers are protected.

Employers should:

  • Identify risk of exposure your workers may have to abuse or violence from customers
  • Put in place controls to mitigate risks
  • Encourage workers to report all incidents
  • Support workers when incidents occurs
  • Send a clear message to customers that abusive behaviour is not tolerated
  • Have a process for handling incidents and provide training for staff

Many retail and fast food workers think abuse is just part of the job. But this is wrong.

It is a serious health and safety issue that can impact your mental and physical wellbeing. Your employer has a duty to provide a safe working environment. Being abused at work is a safety issue – just like slipping on a spill or being burned with hot oil.

We need workers to report incidents so there is a record of it happening when we approach employers about putting in place better protections for you.

If there are no reports of abusive or violent customers, they could just turn around and deny its existence, which makes any change for a safer store more difficult.

The process for reporting health and safety issues such as abusive and violent customer behaviour may be different depending on your employer and your store.

Find out the correct procedure in your store and when an incident occurs report it to your supervisor.

You should also report it to your SDA Health & Safety Rep or Delegate/Shop Steward and your Health & Safety Committee if your store has one.

Remember, you’re not alone. If you’re reporting incidents but don’t feel like you’re being appropriately supported, get in touch with the SDA for help.

Yes. You can report any safety issue or hazard that you see or experience, even if it doesn’t happen to you directly.

Reporting incidents creates a record of the abuse so we can push for better protections to make your store safer. If you don’t report it – it’s like it never happened.

When someone gets injured at work, you report it. If you were to slip from a spill on the floor at work, you would report it.

Being on the receiving end or seeing abusive or violent behaviour is a safety hazard. It can have a serious impact on the mental and physical health of you and your work mates.

That’s why you should report it. For you and for your work mates.

Have you seen our ads?

Need Professional Help? Check Out These Resources

Ph: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue
Ph: 1300 22 4636

Kids Helpline
Ph: 1800 55 1800

The National Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence Counselling Service
Ph: 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

Support The Campaign

Share our message

Please share our videos with your friends, family and in your community to create awareness about this issue and call out customers who do the wrong thing.

Share your story about abusive customer behaviour at work and use the hashtag #noonedeservesaserve and tag @SDAunion on facebook so we can share it too.

Join the SDA, the union for retail and fast food workers 

If you work in retail, fast food or warehousing joining your union the SDA is one of the best things you can do to help the campaign.

SDA members across Australia are driving this campaign and we need more support to tackle this issue.

Standing together is critical for safer stores and to put in place industry wide protections for workers.

Sign our petition

Fill out the petition on the right to show support for the No One Deserves A Serve campaign.

The petition also provides you with the opportunity to share your story of abuse or violence in the workplace.

If you feel comfortable enough giving the Union permission, your story can be used in campaign materials.

The SDA will respect and protect your anonymity when providing information to the petition.

Sign up to support our campaign to stop abusive and violent behaviour from customers.

Not a Member of the SDA? Join Today