In a pivotal move to address the rising tide of violence against retail workers in Western Australia, the National Retail Association (NRA) has welcomed the announcement by the State Government to introduce stricter penalties against retail crime. The proposed legislative changes, set to be implemented in WA, are a response to the alarming escalation of assaults on retail workers, a phenomenon intensified by the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the NRA applauds the introduction of these measures, we also urge the WA Government to take inspiration from successful models in New South Wales (NSW) and South Australia, where harsher penalties against retail crime and abuse have been adopted.

Urgent Need for Stricter Penalties:

The NRA emphasises the frightening escalation of violent behaviour against retail workers across the state, with particular concerns for those in regional Western Australia. To address this growing concern, we call upon the WA Government to act swiftly in implementing harsher penalties against retail crime.

Government Support to Combat the Epidemic:

Retailers, facing an unprecedented crime epidemic, should not be left to fend for themselves. The NRA stresses the crucial role of state and judicial bodies in the success of laws that punish violent behaviour against retailers. The Government, as a partner in ensuring public safety, must actively contribute to protecting retail workers and businesses from the increasing threats they face.

Ensuring Meaningful Consequences:

While advocating for stricter laws, the NRA underscores the importance of ensuring the consequential penalties are just as harsh. We believe that meaningful consequences are essential to deter reoffenders and potential offenders, sending a clear message that violence against retail workers will not be tolerated.

Supporting Small Businesses:

Recognizing the financial constraints faced by small businesses, the NRA calls for the introduction of funding programs that support security upgrades. Particularly during times of high inflation, these initiatives would provide much-needed assistance to smaller enterprises that may struggle to afford sophisticated security equipment.

Protecting Young Workers:

With retail being the largest employer of young people in Australia, the NRA draws attention to the vulnerability of this demographic. As retail abuse becomes a recurring problem, the lives of young workers are increasingly threatened. We urge the prioritisation of safety measures that protect this vital section of the workforce.

Preventing Recurrence and Economic Impact:

The economic impact of retail crime is unprecedented, costing Australian businesses up to $9 billion a year. This financial burden further strains an industry already under immense economic pressure. We stress the urgent need for WA to legislate these measures as quickly as possible, so retail businesses and their employees feel safe in their workplaces.

As the National Retail Association rallies for urgent action against retail crime in Western Australia, the call for stricter penalties and comprehensive support measures reflects the gravity of the situation. By drawing inspiration from successful models in other states and taking proactive steps, the WA Government has the opportunity to create a safer retail environment, protecting both workers and businesses from the detrimental impacts of escalating retail crime. The NRA remains committed to working collaboratively with the Government to address this critical issue and ensure the well-being of the retail sector in Western Australia.