Mandatory testing for NSW police attackers

By Gus McCubbing, AAP

People who bite NSW police and ambulance officers could be subjected to mandatory testing for blood-borne viruses.

Legislation to be introduced to state parliament next year is designed to provide peace of mind for emergency service workers who are attacked while working.

Currently police officers and paramedics who are bitten are forced to wait about six months to learn if they have been exposed to blood-borne viruses such as HIV, hepatitis B or C through an assault.

NSW Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said the scheme was both a mental health and medical policy.

NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman said the scheme would cover any risk of blood transmission posed by a deliberate act, but would not necessarily require a conviction or alleged offence.

He said the subject of the testing order would have 48 hours to appeal to the Chief Health Officer.

"This will be an expeditious process - we don't want it tied up in red tape, we don't want it tied up in a lengthy court process," Mr Speakman told reporters on Wednesday in Sydney.

"We want peace of mind and a swift answer for our frontline workers."

Mr Speakman said anyone who refused to comply with a mandatory testing order would be committing an offence, with a maximum of 12 months imprisonment, an $11,000 fine or both.

He said a parent, guardian or Local Court would approve mandatory disease testing orders if the individual was younger than 16 or subject to a guardianship order.

The scheme would also be available to other frontline workers in NSW including those from corrective services, youth justice, fire and rescue and St John Ambulance.