Paramedics in Australia are increasingly being assaulted while performing their duties, registering a 60% increase in 2008–09 compared to 2006–07.

Around 120 ambulance officers were assaulted in New South Wales (NSW) in the last 12 months while doing their routine tasks, the government said.

Of the 120 paramedics assaulted, 59 were in the Sydney metropolitan area, 33 in the state’s north, 19 in the south and nine in the state’s west.

NSW Minister for Health John Della Bosca said he was appalled by the figures and would be looking at ways to protect the safety of paramedics.

“Paramedics save thousands of lives each year and should not be in fear of their own safety and well-being as they go about their daily tasks. They deserve the community’s utmost respect and courtesy,” Della Bosca said.