AACS welcomes WA’s tougher assault penalties

Australia’s peak convenience store body, the Australian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS), has welcomed the Western Australian Government’s plans to introduce legislation to implement tougher penalties for people who assault or abuse retail workers.

The landmark reforms, being introduced to Parliament this week, will see Western Australia join the Northern Territory, South Australia, and New South Wales leading the way in legislating in response to the growing prevalence of customer aggression and assaults.

AACS CEO Theo Foukkare said the AACS has been advocating for these changes to protect frontline retail teams. This is an area that we are urging the other states and territories to follow.

“All petrol and convenience retail workers are on the frontline serving thousands of customers every single day, have to feel safe at work,” he said. “Our staff don’t deserve to be verbally abused, harassed, or threatened while simply doing their job.

“We thank the WA Premier Roger Cook for listening to the retail community’s concerns & taking strong action to protect our staff.

“Most customers are always well behaved in our stores but unfortunately the minority of people continue to create unsafe environments when they behave like they do.”

Foukkare also congratulated the WA Police for their support of retailers and their teams.

“Our retailers require collaborative efforts; they cannot address this issue in isolation. They depend on police assistance to apprehend these offenders. Simultaneously, our law enforcement agencies need the judicial system to treat these new laws with gravity and implement them.

“We have championed more stringent penalties for a valid reason – we believe that if rigorously enforced, these penalties will significantly benefit retailers, alleviating the burden on law enforcement. Our retail community will embrace this initiative warmly. Through this new legislation, we are emphatically conveying that such behaviour will not be accepted.”

The legislation will see the maximum penalty for assaulting a retail worker increased from 18 months’ jail and $18,000 fine to seven years imprisonment or three years and a fine of $36,000, as a summary offence.

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