Tougher penalties for ED violence planned
The Victorian government may consider new legislation designed to better protect emergency workers from violent attacks.
Health Minister David Davis said draft legislation that would increase jail sentences for those who attack emergency workers would be discussed at length with health professionals.
"People should not be threatened or face assault as they go about their legitimate work as a doctor or nurse," he told reporters on the weekend.
The proposed legislation could also be extended to include health workers in settings outside of emergency departments, such as home care.
"We haven't laid out the precise details. That is exactly the discussions that we want to have," he said.
Both the Australian Nursing Federation and the Australian Medical Association have stepped up their campaign to include health professionals within the framework of the new laws. The ANF Victorian branch has previously called for attacks against hospital staff to be made a specific criminal offence.
Medical staff at two Melbourne hospitals pointed to an average of three reported assaults a week as evidence for the expanded measures.
The state government could not confirm the accuracy of those figures but said hospital violence was an ongoing issue.
Davis said he wanted to see the absolute minimum number of violent or threatening incidents directed at emergency workers.
State opposition health spokesman Gavin Jennings said the government had delayed its promised reforms for two years but the opposition wanted to support measures that protected healthcare workers.
"In terms of the outcome that the law is meant to achieve, we are very supportive of it," he told reporters.
No date has been set for introducing the legislation into parliament.
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