By James Marmin
In December 2021, the first Report “Hear Her Voice” was released by the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce. This Taskforce, chaired by the Honourable Margaret McMurdo AC was established to examine the impact of coercive control in domestically violent relationships and to consider the need for a specific offence of domestic violence in the criminal justice system. This first report made 89 recommendations that seek to further reform the justice and domestic violence systems. One of these recommendations was the creation of a new offence to criminalise coercive control.
It has been recognised that coercive control is a form of domestic violence that constitutes a pattern of behaviours perpetrated against a person to create a relationship of fear, isolation, intimidation and humiliation.
Queensland Government’s Response
After consideration of the recommendations of the first report, the Queensland Government is supportive or supportive-in-principle of all 89 recommendations made by the Taskforce. The Government will now commence work in order to implement these. This response builds upon the significant reform work completed to date in the “Not Now, Not Ever Report” and Queensland’s current ten-year Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Strategy.
The Government has indicated it will progressively introduce a suite of new laws into Parliament which will combat coercive control. These will commence with reforms to strengthen the existing legislative responses to coercive control which are to be introduced this year.
Prior to the new offences coming into effect, the Government has commented that system-wide reform is necessary. Hence, the Response from the Queensland Government focuses on the following key action areas for this reform:
• Systemic reforms across Queensland’s criminal justice system;
• increased awareness-raising in the community and improved primary prevention;
• improving domestic, family and sexual violence service system responses, specifically integrated service responses and high-risk teams, perpetrator interventions and co-response;
• training, education and change management across parts of the domestic, family and sexual violence and justice system;
• improvements to police responses to domestic, family and sexual violence through new and continuing initiatives to address whole-of-services transformational change;
• enhancements to Queensland Courts to ensure the safety of victims;
• a suite of legislative amendments;
• governance, reporting and accountability mechanisms.
The Taskforce’s second report, which is focused on women’s experiences in the criminal justice system as victim-survivors of sexual violence and as accused persons and offenders, is due to be released in mid-2022. Following this report, the Queensland Government will then consider the contained recommendations and release a response.
If you wish to read more about the Queensland Government’s response to each individual recommendation, you can find the response here: Queensland Government Report: Hear Her Voice Report 1