Victoria set to introduce new laws to protect retail workers

The Victorian Government is set to strengthen or expand current laws to protect customer-facing workers.

The Government will convene a Worker Protection Consultation Group to oversee the development of the legislative approach, with the aim of introducing a Bill to Parliament by the end of 2025.

Jacinta Allan, Premier of Victoria, said these workers deserve nothing but our respect, and they’re going to help make sure they get it.

“These new laws will send a powerful message: if you think you can get away with assaulting or abusing these workers – you’re wrong and you will face the consequences.”

A national survey conducted last year of 4,600 members from the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employee’ Association (SDA) found that 87 per cent of workers had experienced abuse from customers in the past year.

David Stout, Director of Policy at the National Retail Association (NRA), said retail faces a range of challenges, but few are as important as addressing the escalation of assaults on retail workers.

“Retailers welcome all customers who have intentions to shop, however there is no excuse for abuse, violence or harassment. Abusive shoppers need to understand that their anti-social behaviour is not just rude but also against the law.

“The NRA looks forward to working closely with the Victorian Government to ensure the laws are effective and meet the same high standards as successful models in New South Wales and South Australia.”

The Group, of which the NRA will be a leading participant, will consider potential new penalties or offences, as well as how existing offences could be expanded or strengthened to protect these vulnerable workers. It will also consider protections against stalking, harassment, or intimidation towards workers.

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