In June 2010, following statistics published in July 2009, the United Services Union of Australia sent a survey to each council in NSW relating to council rangers, parking patrol officers and animal control officers.
The survey requested a range of information, including the number and role of the officers, whether risk assessments have been carried out for the positions, and the type of injuries and illnesses officers suffered as a result of violence or aggressive behaviour directed at them by members of the public while they performed their duties.
The survey found that in 39 of the 67 councils that responded, officers had been injured or become ill as a result of violence, aggression and abuse from the public, with injuries including broken or dislocated bones, head and facial injuries, cuts, scratches, bruises and verbal abuse. Officers at 27 councils reported anxiety or depression as a result, with nearly half the respondents having been physically attacked on the job, 78 per cent threatened with violence whilst 81.7 per cent experienced threatening behaviour.
To try and address the growing level of abuse and violence, councils have taken a range of measures, including having teaming parking officers and rangers in pairs, being accompanied by a police officer after dark and eliminating patrols after dark and near pubs and clubs altogether.
Rangers currently attend courses where they learn how to handle difficult and aggressive people. The Union Services Union is negotiating with local government to see the new State award pay level for council parking officers, rangers and ordinance inspectors include a clause that mandates working in pairs.
The full results of the survey can be found on the United Services Union website here.