Women’s Legal Service Queensland has released an urgent priority list of reforms required to respond to the national crisis of domestic violence following the horrific murder of Hannah Clarke and her three children.
WLSQ CEO Angela Lynch said:
“The challenge is what do we do now? ”
“Same old same old is clearly not enough”
“We have completed the 140 recommendations from Not Now: Not Ever but what next?”
“A coronial inquest is not enough, this will take too long and we need an immediate response that matches the magnitude of the domestic violence crisis our community is facing.”
“Until we put this as a real priority with a list for action we won’t see any significant change.”
In order for Queensland to be a national leader in responding to family violence it must implement the following plan:
- Undertake an immediate review of how domestic violence is dealt with by the Queensland Criminal Justice System as it is not currently responsive to victim’s needs;
- Make legislative changes to improve victim’s safety, for example, improving strangulation, stalking and sexual violence offences and considering coercive control (with a range of safeguards to protect against incorrect misidentification of who is the true offender by the police, especially important for highly vulnerable women)
- Overhauling family violence training to police and courts;
- Immediate statewide rollout of proactive monitoring and tracking of high risk dv offenders by the police – responding to them in a similar way as terrorists, as this is exactly what they are – they are domestic terrorists. (Being proactive not reactive)
- Increased funding for frontline services with the aim that calls for help don’t go unanswered.
The safeguards that should support a coercive control offence are:
- A step through process where police apply for a dvo (civil protection order) but at the same time (or later) the police determine the respondent is so dangerous that a coercive control offence is warranted to ensure the safety of the woman and her children.
- That any coercive control charge is only authorised after being signed off by a senior and specially trained police officer.
- A comprehensive training package be rolled out to support the new offence for all QLD police (the training MUST be from a gendered perspective)
- That the rollout of the offence is part of a broader strategy to respond to violence against women and girls
- That the law be independently evaluated after 2 years.
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