The NSW Government is considering tougher knife-crime penalties after a spate of high-profile attacks shocked Sydney.

Premier Chris Minns said he was not prepared to rule anything out and would review legislation following the incidents, which included a teenager’s alleged attack of a priest in a western Sydney church.

An 18-year-old man was fatally stabbed near a primary school on April 12, leading to murder charges being laid against a trio of boys – the youngest of whom was 15.

NSW Police have suggested in a submission to a Sentencing Council review that the Government should make it an indictable offence for any parent to allow their child to illegally possess a knife.

Parents who allow children to carry knives face a maximum penalty of $550.

The Health Services Union said laws needed to better protect paramedics and all health workers, particularly when they’re on the streets.

“It seems to have become normalised, especially among young men, that you put your jeans on, you put your running shoes on, and you slip your knife into your back pocket,” union secretary Gerard Hayes said. 

“You’re not going to eradicate every risk, but if you can minimise it you should.’’

But youth advocacy groups have concerns over increasing penalties. 

The Law Society’s submission recommended increased investment in early intervention initiatives, restorative justice and rehabilitation programs.

Youth Justice NSW found higher maximum penalties for weapons offences would be “unlikely to have a deterrent effect”.

“Violent crimes involving firearms or knives where the person of interest or offender is 10-17 years old have been steadily decreasing over a 20-year period from 2002-2022,” its submission read.

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties said demonising parents of children who have been accused of criminal offences will only further marginalise families and put children at increased risk.

Council president Lydia Shelly blasted the position of NSW police as “out of touch” and pointed towards Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research data indicating knife crime was declining in the state.

“Charging parents on the basis that their child has committed an offence oversimplifies the intricate circumstances surrounding children who have contact with the criminal justice system,” she said.

Criminalising parents could jeopardise their employment, destabilise their housing situation and disrupt their ability to maintain custody of their children, she said.

Calls are growing for harsher sanctions for social media platforms in the wake of Saturday’s shopping centre massacre in Sydney, after distressing footage of the attack was uploaded online and misinformation spread. 

Federal Education Minister Jason Clare said parents had a role to play in reducing knife crime. 

“If parents knowingly let their children out the door with a dangerous weapon, like a knife, then yes, they should have the book thrown at them,” he told Seven’s Sunrise program.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton hailed Queensland’s “wanding” powers, which allowed police to use hand-held metal detectors without warrants in night precincts, transit hubs and on public transport.

The reforms, introduced as part of a crackdown on youth crime, have led to more than 500 weapons seized since the laws were introduced in March 2023.

Social media companies, meanwhile, are on notice to be more proactive in removing graphic content or misinformation online, as a bipartisan push for tougher penalties gathers pace.

Calls are growing for harsher sanctions for social media platforms in the wake of last Saturday’s Westfield shopping centre tragedy, after distressing footage of the attack was uploaded online and misinformation spread.

After a week marked by trauma and anger following the murders in Bondi Junction, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the companies had a social responsibility to stop the spread of footage from the stabbings.

“Media companies, including social media companies, have a responsibility to act,” he said in Melbourne on Friday.

“It shouldn’t need the eSafety Commissioner to intervene to direct companies ... to take down violent videos that show people who have lost their lives.”

The online safety watchdog has written to Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, as well as X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, asking for the graphic images to be removed.

“eSafety is disappointed that process has been unnecessarily prolonged,” eSafety said in a statement.

“We are considering whether further regulatory action is warranted.”

Albanese said social media companies must be proactive.

“The social media companies that make a lot of money out of their business have a social responsibility,” he said.

Following the stabbing, the eSafety Commissioner urged people not to share graphic images online.

It received a small number of reports from the public relating to the attack by a 40-year-old man, who killed six and injured 12 people.

The tragedy, and the stabbing of a bishop by a 16-year-old boy in Sydney last Monday – which has been labelled a terrorist act – has also prompted concerns in the NSW Police force about the responsibilities of social media firms.

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb condemned the misinformation that was allowed to circulate online in the aftermath.

“There’s been information on applications like WhatsApp, TikTok, other things, suggesting certain things and they’re not true,” she told reporters in Sydney.

“It’s creating fear, unnecessary fear in the community, and it needs to stop.”

Government Services Minister Bill Shorten urged the platforms to adhere to their social licence.

“It’s unimaginable what’s happened. The social media companies need a big rinse out, frankly,” Shorten told Nine’s Today program on Friday.

“It’s a bit of a shame it takes the government to sort of play whack-a-mole here to shut down the horrible images.”

Dutton said tougher action must be taken against platforms that don’t comply with take down requests for offensive content.

“They’ve got a complete contempt for families, for kids who spent a lot of time on social media and the influence that they exert needs to have that social licence,” he told Nine.

The Government is already considering options for tougher sanctions for social media companies who fail to take content down following requests by the watchdog.

“The advice I’ve got is that Facebook did a reasonable job, but Twitter hasn’t,” Clare said on Sunrise.

“There’s penalties there of $500,000 for companies, $100,000 for individuals – we’re looking at what more needs to be done here as well.”

Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley said the social media giants had to stop the graphic content from being shared widely.

“I’m so sick of these social media platforms, I’m so sick of their excuses. They’re parents too, they have a responsibility,” she said.

“We’ll support the Government in cracking down, getting tougher and finding ways of getting outside this sort of voluntary compliance routine that exists right now.”

with AAP