The Federal Government has introduced legislation aimed at fortifying protections for Commonwealth frontline workers.

The government says it is working on enhancing workplace safety for those serving in critical public roles. 

It has announced a legislative push that aligns with recommendations from the Ashton Report, launched in the wake of a violent incident in May 2023 that saw a Services Australia employee subjected to a stabbing attack.

In response to the alarming event, government services minister Bill Shorten initiated a review, leading to the recommendation of national penalty provisions that mirror the existing legal protections afforded to other essential workers, such as police officers and paramedics. 

The proposed adjustments would escalate penalties associated with the assault or threat of serious harm towards Commonwealth employees.

Melissa Donnelly, CPSU National Secretary, has commended the government's initiative but emphasised the necessity of broader measures to fully realise a safe workplace. 

The union has highlighted ongoing concerns regarding staffing levels and the prevalence of aggressive incidents towards staff, urging for a holistic approach to worker safety that includes addressing systemic issues like call wait times and claim processing backlogs.

The legislation - known as the Criminal Code Amendment (Protecting Commonwealth Frontline Workers) Bill 2024 - seeks to extend the maximum penalty for causing harm to a Commonwealth frontline worker to 13 years' imprisonment, and from 7 to 9 years for threats of serious harm. 

The government says this move is part of its broader effort to implement all 44 recommendations from the Services Australia Security Risk Management Review.

Shorten has expressed a personal commitment to the safety of Service Australia staff, reiterating promises made in the wake of the 2023 attack.