Bondi Junction stabbing: Albanese offers citizenship to French man who confronted attacker with bollard

The Australian prime minister has offered a French citizen who confronted the Bondi Junction attacker with a bollard the ability to stay in Australia as long as he likes and even become a citizen.

French construction worker Damien Guerot was dubbed “bollard man” after CCTV footage showed him confronting Joel Cauchi on an escalator in Westfield Bondi Junction, where Cauchi allegedly fatally stabbed six people on Saturday before he was shot dead by police.

On Tuesday Anthony Albanese thanked Damien Guerot for his “extraordinary bravery” and offered to resolve visa issues for the French citizen after reports his visa is due to expire in July.

“I say this to Damien Guerot – who is dealing with his visa applications – that you are welcome here, you are welcome to stay for as long as you like,” Albanese told reporters in Canberra.

“This is someone who we would welcome becoming an Australian citizen, although that would of course be a loss for France.

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“It says a lot about the nature of humanity at a time when we are facing difficult issues, that someone who is not a citizen of this country stood bravely at the top of those escalators and stopped this perpetrator from getting on to another floor and potentially inflicting further carnage on citizens.

“I think that on Saturday we saw some of the best of human character at the same time as we saw such devastating tragedy. And I thank Damien for his extraordinary efforts.”

Guardian Australia has contacted the immigration minister, Andrew Giles, to clarify if the government is offering to waive the four-year residency requirement for becoming an Australian citizen, as it has done in the past for elite athletes hoping to represent Australia at the Olympics.

“Mr Guerot’s extraordinary bravery is an example of the character we all want to see in our society,” Giles said.

“I am aware of Mr Guerot’s case and have asked my Department to look into visa options for him. Once again, we thank Mr Guerot as well as other members of the public, our heroic police officers and first responders who have helped protect others from danger.”

Earlier, Albanese told WSFM radio that Australia needs “to do more” to protect women in the wake of the Bondi Junction attack, after New South Wales police confirmed they are investigating whether Cauchi deliberately targeted women and children.

“Women should be safe going about their shopping on a Saturday afternoon,” Albanese said. “They also should, of course, be safe in their home.”

Related:Bondi Junction mass stabbing attack: who are the six victims?

“And we’ve seen too many incidents of domestic violence as well already this year. It is a tragic statistic that tells a story well beyond just numbers. That a woman loses their life to someone that they know on average once a week in Australia.

“We need to do more on the scourge of domestic violence.”

On ABC Melbourne, Albanese declined to get into a “definitional debate” about whether violence motivated by misogyny could constitute terrorism.

Albanese said the Bondi Junction attack was “completely unacceptable” and “horrific”, but said there is an “ongoing investigation as to motivation”.

Albanese said that it is “absolutely” up to every Australian – including men – to deal with violence against women.

“Women shouldn’t feel like they have to change their behaviour [or that] they shouldn’t be able to walk home from the train station or bus stop at night.

“Men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of this violence and men as a group have to change their behaviour.”