ANOTHER South Gippsland Shire staff member has allegedly been assaulted during a visit to a private home in response to claims of a local laws infringement.
The matter was due to be heard in the Korumburra Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, July 7 but the alleged offender is disputing the police account of the incident and the matter has been adjourned until October 20.
Although the alleged incident remains unresolved, the Sentinel-Times queried shire enforcement practices with the shire CEO Tim Tamlin in the light of this latest incident and the attack at Turtons Creek in May last year.
Here’s what we asked: “Following the Turtons Creek matter, did you conduct an internal review of practices and policies when carrying out enforcement visits to private property? Did you change practices as a result? Are you aware of the latest incident in which another of your staff members has been named as the alleged victim of an assault? Does it indicate that your OH&S policies aren’t sufficiently robust and need further review? Are you going too hard at enforcement to the point where you are risking the safety of staff members?”
Mr Tamlin defended the shire’s processes.
“Worksafe reviewed our policies, procedures and practices after the Turtons Creek incident. They required us to make some minor changes, which we have since implemented.
“Worksafe was satisfied we had safe systems in place, which included current process and future actions:
• Working in isolation procedure, including checklist
• Working in isolation flow chart for guidance on appropriate processes to follow
• GPS units with duress alarms installed in all regulatory services vehicles
• Violence prevention policy
• Occupational Violence Risk Prevention Workshop
• Scheduling of situation awareness training.
There are also a number of further actions currently underway:
• Additional occupational violence specific training
• Team specific working in isolation action cards and processes.
“The wellbeing of council officers is not an issue unique to South Gippsland. In fact at its September 23, 2015 meeting Council endorsed the Notice of Motion supporting the MAV State Council Motion from Whitehorse City Council related to protecting the health and welfare of Council authorised enforcement officers.
“South Gippsland Shire Council officers have also undertaken Situational Awareness training with their colleagues from Bass Coast Shire Council, Baw Baw Shire Council and Latrobe City Council.
“Regarding the incident in question, the person who is accused of assaulting our officer was not the person who was the subject of the callout. There was no way of knowing that the accused would be present. It is also worth noting that there was a second officer in attendance at the time.
“Regardless of the circumstances, treating an officer with disrespect or aggression is unacceptable. Our officers are out there supporting the community through the application of legislation and the local law.
“It’s never going to be an easy job as the matters we are involved in are often confrontational and we are very mindful of this.
“In these circumstances, the people who we are dealing with are not necessarily the people who are receiving the service – it’s the people who live next door, the people who are being impacted on by certain activities or situations that are not permitted under legislation or the local law.
“To turn a blind eye or not deal with difficult issues is not in keeping with our commitment to support the community we serve.”
Shire safety review after Turtons Creek