Attacks on Victoria emergency workers to be treated the same as murder: Andrews

Written messages are seen on the exterior of Victorian Ambulances during a press conference outside the State Parliament of Victoria, Melbourne Source: AAP

Attacks on Victorian emergency workers will be considered as bad as murder and "excuses" will be tightened under a state government crackdown.

Attacks on Victorian emergency workers will be treated the same as murder and "excuses" will be tightened under an Andrews government crackdown.

Impairment from alcohol or drugs and psychosocial immaturity will be removed as special reasons in mitigation and courts must give less weight to the life circumstances of offenders, including traumatic childhoods.

"That substantial limiting of those special reasons meets, I think, community expectations and says to our emergency service workers that we value their safety and we honour the work they do," Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Tuesday.

"I'm sure I'll be criticised by some who indicate this is going too far. Well, anyone who wants to avoid going to jail it's very simple - don't attack and injure a paramedic or a police officer or a staff member at a youth justice facility or prison."

Charges of recklessly causing injury and recklessly or intentionally causing serious injury will become category one offences, the same as rape and murder, but charges can be dealt with by all three levels of court.

The government plans on introducing the laws in the second sitting week of June.

An emergency worker harm reference group, which will include union representatives, will also be created to implement the reforms and the Director of Public Prosecutions will get greater powers to appeal sentences.

"There will be additional Victorians who go to jail because of these changes. There will be some resource flow-on effects because of that, we will make those additional investments," Mr Andrews said.

The measures follow a meeting between Mr Andrews and the police and ambulance unions amid backlash over the quashing of a jail term for two women who assaulted paramedic Paul Judd in 2016.

They seek to tighten six-month mandatory sentencing laws introduced by the Napthine government in 2014, which included exemptions for "special reasons".

But there was outrage after Amanda Warren, 33, and Caris Underwood, 22, last week had their jail sentences for assaulting Mr Judd quashed on appeal in Victoria's County Court.

Warren and Underwood were originally jailed for six months and four months respectively, but Judge Barbara Cotterell said their traumatic childhoods and young families meant the minimum six-month term should not apply.

Police Association secretary Wayne Gatt said emergency workers had been walking "with a target on their back" and the changes remove that target.

"At the moment what we're seeing is excuses that really simply don't cut it for the sorts of behaviour our members are experiencing on the street," he said.

But the opposition says the changes don't go far enough and still allow for judicial discretion.

"There's a real possibility these may be a change on press releases, but no change in reality at all," Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said.

His team plans on introducing its own private member's bill on Tuesday to tighten the mandatory sentencing laws.

Source AAP - SBS

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