In late 2020, the SDA surveyed 2,338 members and 17 employers. The key findings of the survey read as follows:
· 88% of respondents had experienced verbal abuse in the previous 12 months.
· Almost half of the members who experienced verbal abuse in the previous 12 months said it occurred weekly or monthly.
· Female members were more likely to have experienced verbal abuse from a customer (89%) than male members (83%).
· Almost 8% of respondents said they had been the victim of physical violence from a customer in the previous 12 months.
· 11% of respondents said they had experienced incidents of customer abuse that was sexual in nature.
· 70% of respondents said that abuse and violence was more frequent during COVID-19.
· More than 1 out of 5 of members (21.5%) said they had been coughed on or spat at during Covid-19.
· 71% of respondents said the experience of customer abuse and violence had impacted their physical or mental health.
· Only 58.5% of respondents said they had reported an incident of abuse or violence to their employer.
· Young workers were much less likely to report an incident of customer abuse and violence because they didn’t think it was serious enough or nothing would be done, or it wouldn’t be taken seriously.
Voices from the frontline: “Customer said she hoped I would get cancer”
Here are some comments from workers responding to SDA’s survey:
· “I was hit on the head with a pvc pipe, and had a packet of deadlocks thrown at me.”
· “Customers constantly threaten, swear and throw things at me.”
· “I was grabbed by my throat by a male customer.”
· “Customer requested donation that was rejected. Customer said she hoped I would get cancer.”
· “I was copping verbal abuse from customers at least a couple times a week for doing my job, which culminated in being physically assaulted and suffering concussion. I was off work for a month.”
· “Had a rock thrown at my car after leaving work.” More information on the survey is available here.