Prison terms could be handed out for assaults on emergency workers, under a new bill introduced in Victoria this week.

Attorney General Jill Hennessy says the Sentencing Amendment (Emergency Worker Harm) Bill 2020 requires courts to impose imprisonment in all cases where an offender injures an emergency worker on duty, except in specific circumstances of mental impairment.

“It’s simply unacceptable that the people who dedicate their lives to keeping us safe could be intentionally injured – or worse – just by doing their job,” Ms Hennessy said.

“We’re making sure the protections for emergency workers are crystal clear and ensuring that a departure from the statutory minimum sentence is reserved for the most exceptional circumstances.

“The Bill also makes clear that offenders will not be able to rely on a special reason of impaired mental functioning, even where they have an underlying condition.”

Ms Hennessy said the Office of Public Prosecutions would prosecute all offences with a statutory minimum sentence in the higher courts.

“This will also facilitate the development of specialisation in the prosecution of these complex cases,” she said.

“The reforms will also confirm that interstate emergency workers on duty in Victoria are protected under the legislation.”