Thursday, June 20, 2024

Toowoomba tackles staff abuse

Toowoomba Regional Council is asking members of the public to show respect for its workforce by stopping physical or verbal threats to staff.

Mayor, Geoff McDonald said it was important to remember that Council employees were also friends, family members and active members of the community.

“The Toowoomba Region is a welcoming community where we strive to treat people how we would like to be treated ourselves,” he said.

“Our people are our greatest asset and they have a right to do their work free from intimidation, abuse and threats.”

Council Chief Executive Officer, Brian Pidgeon said the frequency of harassment or abusive behaviour from community members interacting with Council officers had increased.

“Prior to the 2020/21 financial year, Council recorded less than 20 incidents a year where our staff members were exposed to incidents of this nature,” he said.

“Since then there has been a noticeable increase which is a major concern.”

In 2020/21 there were 26 incidents of harassment or abusive behaviour involving a community member interacting with Council. In 2021/22 there were 29 reports and this jumped to 51 in 2022/23 with the figures to date for 2023/24 already tracking higher than any previous year.

One of Toowoomba Regional Council’s customer service officers.

“Regardless of the situation, these behaviours and interactions are unacceptable,” Mr Pidgeon said.

“These negative interactions can impact the health and safety of our people.

“No-one should be subjected to abuse from someone else for doing their job and if necessary, we will refer matters to the Queensland Police Service where required.

“It’s my priority to ensure we’re doing all we can to make our staff feel safe and supported while they’re serving our community.

“Thankfully, the majority of people are respectful and pleasant when interacting with Council officers.”

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