Minister Shorten Statement to the House

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: Yesterday at 1:30 p.m., at a Services Australia centre at Airport West, a Centrelink Team Leader was stabbed by an assailant while doing her job. This is a terrible crime committed against a well-respected, well-loved, experienced public servant.

This morning I travelled to Melbourne to visit the Airport West service centre. I met many amazing but traumatised co-workers who were present yesterday and others who were there today to support their colleagues. I know the House joins me in expressing shock at this incident. We send our thoughts to the staff member who was injured, her family and the staff and customers who witnessed this assault. The officer is receiving the best of care and we wish her a speedy recovery. My thanks to both the immediate assistance provided by other staff and the Victorian Police who attended within five minutes. It's a very sad and terrible day for Services Australia and our Commonwealth public service, and people who work for government at all levels.

Public servants do an important and difficult job for people in their local community, many of whom are stressed or vulnerable and have complex problems. But that is no excuse. Customer aggression and anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated ever. No one who works for our public service on the frontline should ever be concerned for their personal safety. They all have a right to go home safely. I want to assure the staff at service centres that the Albanese Government is taking this matter most seriously.

Today we are establishing a review of service centre security led by Graham Ashton APM, former Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police and Deputy Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police. The terms of reference will examine what we can do to better prevent and deter future incidents. This review will be carried out as a priority. The impact of this terrible incident on staff is obvious. Some were too distressed to return to frontline work today. I think it is important, and I briefly mentioned this to the Shadow Minister, that this Parliament expresses its support for all of our public servants, in particular the person who was assaulted yesterday.