A BATHURST police officer's decision to speak out after being bitten at work has helped to create new legislation that protects all frontline emergency service workers.
NSW Police Association representative Alex Christian was bitten on the bicep while arresting an offender outside the Oxford Hotel in 2019.
It took six months to determine whether or not he had contracted any diseases as a result of the bite.
Over that time, his mental health suffered and he had to take time off work.
Now other frontline workers in NSW won't have to suffer through the uncertainty.
The Mandatory Disease Testing Bill 2020 has been passed through both houses of parliament, seeing a mandatory testing order issued if a frontline worker has been exposed to bodily fluid as a result of a deliberate action.
A blood sample must be provided by the offender if there is a risk the worker could contract a disease.
"In regards to legislation protecting frontline workers, this is probably the biggest moment in the last 25 years where we've seen the government pass legislation that protects us from the mental drain and distress of having to wait six months to find out if we've contracted a bloodborne disease," Mr Christian said.
"On a personal note, I'm just really proud. After I had that incident back in 2019 and I had to actually go through that process, I just thought to myself that I wasn't going to give up until that legislation was changed."
He worked behind the scenes with Member for Bathurst Paul Toole, who put him in touch with relevant ministers, and met with numerous people as a result.
He thanked all of them for making this legislation a reality.
Mr Christian said he felt "terrified" on the night he was bitten and, had legislation like this existed then, he would have known in days, not months, whether or not he had contracted anything.
"It's just in the back of your mind for that full six months; it's just negative and it grinds you down. If I had have found out a couple of days or a couple of weeks later, it would have been a significant weight lifted," he said.
"I think that's so important and this legislation protects frontline workers' mental health. That's what this does.
"Unfortunately police and frontline workers will always be assaulted, but it's that protection now, that we've been assaulted but we don't have to wait and go through that mental distress."
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