Seventy eight per cent of retail and wholesale workers in Campbelltown have been abused or assaulted at work over the past ten years.

In many cases, the offenders have got off scot free.

That is about to change with the New South Wales government proposing up to 11 years of imprisonment for individuals who cause severe harm on retail workers in a bid to curb violence against the sector’s workforce.

The government tabled to Parliament its proposed Crimes Legislation Amendment (Assaults on Retail Workers) Bill 2023, which is introducing three new offences into the Crimes Act 1900.

The reforms make it an offense to:

  • assault, throw a missile at, stalk, harass or intimidate a retail worker in the course of the worker’s duty, even if no actual bodily harm is caused to the worker, with a maximum penalty of 4 years’ imprisonment.
  • assault a retail worker in the course of the worker’s duty and cause actual bodily harm to the worker, with a maximum penalty of 6 years’ imprisonment.
  • wound or cause grievous bodily harm to a retail worker in the course of the worker’s duty, being reckless as to causing actual bodily harm to the worker or another person, with a maximum penalty of 11 years’ imprisonment.

State Member for Campbelltown, Greg Warren said that nobody deserves to be assaulted for simply doing their job.

“Retail workers are essential to our way of life and to our economy and they should not be the targets of violence or threats,” he said.

Research conducted by the McKell Institute commissioned by the Shop, Distribute and Allied Employees Association, declared at the culmination of a ten-year trend NSW-wide that incidents of abuse or assault increased by 66%.

NSW Premier Chris Minns said, “Everyone should be treated with decency and respect while at work. There is no excuse for assaulting anyone, particularly not someone who is doing their job.”

Industrial Relations Minister Sophie Cotsis added that she has heard firsthand from retail workers how abuse affected their working life.

“This type of offending causes enormous distress for the shop workers, their families and the wider community and can leave lasting emotional scars, as well as those caused by injury,” she said.