NEW legislation has been introduced to protect frontline workers who are being abused, intimidated, threatened and assaulted.
People can be issued an on the spot $5,000 fine and may be given a court attendance notice where they may incur an $11,000 fine and six months gaol.
Editorial note: Local frontline workers have shared with us stories of how they have noticed they are being treated differently in the community, at this stage it is people shunning them in public. PLEASE understand our frontline health care workers are experts in how to care for people and how to observe infection control both for themselves and for others in the community. They have dedicated their careers to caring for people and would not do anything to place anyone at risk. Please treat them with the compassion and warmth that they so deserve during what is one of the most challenging times for them personally and most challenging times of their career. And please remember supermarket staff are also frontline workers in this pandemic, please treat them with the kindness you would want if you were in their shoes stressed, working Easter and facing uncertain times.
With the NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard, representatives of the Health Services Union, the Nurses and Midwives Union and the Police Association said they welcomed the new legislation to help protect frontline workers.
“The nurses and midwives association has been reporting some pretty horrible behaviour of the community, small numbers of the community,” said Brett Holmes, general secretary of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association.
“And we welcome this legislation which reinforces a very strong message that if you see someone in a health uniform, a nurse, a midwife,” he said.
Mr Holmes said they had received complaints from throughout New South Wales including workers having their trolley kicked while shopping, nurses on trains being surrounded by people who have coughed on them.
“So many people in the community are supportive….we just need these few people who are breaking the law to understand how serious this is….frontline workers are really putting their lives on the line to look after their community,” said Brett Holmes.