Is mandatory jail the best response to patient violence?

Last year's law change in Victoria means more health workers could be dragged into criminal trials, says barrister

Minimum jail sentences don’t protect health professionals from assault by patients but may “double-traumatise” them by sending more cases to trial, a barrister and lecturer says.

Ambulance officers

In 2018, the Victorian Government passed laws to crack down on patients who attacked doctors, paramedics or nurses delivering “emergency-like care”, removing the special circumstances that had allowed judges to impose non-custodial sentences.

The laws, which mandate a minimum of six months jail for those found guilty, were intended to deter attacks on health workers.