Members of the public who physically assault council rangers and other enforcement officers will soon face much tougher penalties when the NSW Government introduces legislation early this week to help increase protections for council workers at risk of assault.
The proposed changes to the Crimes Act will give judges the power to give much harsher sentences to offenders who assault council officers including rangers, lifeguards, environmental enforcement officers and animal control enforcement officers.
The new legislation, which will protect these council workers in the same way as police and bus drivers, has been welcomed by the United Services Union, which has been campaigning for greater protections for law enforcement officers as attacks continue to rise.
The USU welcomes the Minister for Local Government’s decision to help protect council law enforcement officers who are constantly assaulted and abused while on the job.
Every day rangers, parking patrol officers and other council workers experience a myriad of abuse, both physical and verbal, that is both unwarranted and extremely unacceptable.
No one deserves to be bashed, spit on, punched, kicked or have objects thrown at them while they are at work, but this is the reality that these workers face every day.
The USU is pleased that finally steps are being taken to address this issue and protect council workers from serious abuse.
The USU praised the work of the USU’s Rangers and Parking Patrol Officers Reference Group that has helped raise awareness of the work rangers and parking patrol officers do in the community.
These new laws will go some way toward providing increased protection for council law enforcement officers, but there is still a long way to go, and the USU is currently preparing a report which will present a range of recommendations for future strategies to increase protections for these workers.
We know that an increase in drug and alcohol-related violence, road rage and financial problems are some of the factors in rising assaults, and there needs to be greater support from Councils for law enforcement officers out there on the job.
No one, including me, likes to find a ticket on their windscreen. But these workers are simply doing the job they are employed by council to do, and without their work, our communities would be less tolerable to live in, the environment more polluted and our roads less functional.