Survey results highlight abuse towards retail and fast food workers is epidemic

Enough is enough. Too many retail and fast food workers are being abused at work from swearing and spitting to threatening and physical violence.

From December 2016 to February 2017, the SDA conducted an online survey of retail and fast food workers and received an overwhelming response. Thousands of SDA members and non-members across Australia face abuse and violence at work and it’s time that changed.


  • More than 85% of respondents have been subjected to verbal abuse from a customer in the last 12 months.


  • 24.35% were subjected to verbal abuse every week.


  • 14.49% have experienced physical violence from a customer.


  • 33.54% of respondents said they had felt threatened by a customer 1-2 times in the last 12 months.


  • 11.62% reported that the incidents of customer abuse or violence involved behaviour by a customer that was sexual in nature.


  • 4.07% of respondents said customer abuse had been directed to them online.


  • 62.31% said customer abuse was generally perpetrated by both male and female customers.


Any kind of abuse is not ok, and everyone has the right to a safe work environment.


  • 64.30% of respondents said they had not received any training in the last 12 months on how to deal with threatening situations, including abusive or violent customers.


  • 51.26% of respondents said no action was taken after they reported an incident.


The SDA’s campaign to stop customer abuse and violence.

The SDA is committed to stopping customer abuse and violence in the retail and fast food industries and building better protections for workers. The SDA is here to support you if you have experienced abuse or violence by a customer at work.

We encourage retail and fast food workers to report all incidents of customer abuse and violence at work. The more information we have about how often incidents occur, when they occur and who the perpetrators are – the stronger our case is to put better measures in place to protect workers.

If you need advice or support, please contact your SDA Branch.