Date: 11 May 2022
WOMEN’S LEGAL SERVICE QUEENSLAND CALLS UPON THE LEGAL COMMUNITY TO COMMIT TO FOUR KEY RECOMMENDATIONS TO IMPROVE RESPONSE TO COERCIVE CONTROL
In the wake of the state government’s historic announcement to overhaul domestic violence laws recommended by the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce, Women’s Legal Service Queensland (WLSQ) looks forward to the commitment from the Queensland Law Society and the Bar Association of Queensland to the Taskforce’s remaining four recommendations directed to legal practitioners and judicial officers to recognise coercive control and support women in danger.
The Taskforce recommendations echo the results of an October 2021 research report by WLSQ and the North Queensland WLS ‘Understanding and responding to coercive control’. The report highlights the significant shortfall in lawyers’ understanding and responses to clients who are experiencing coercive control behaviour and missed the critical opportunity to intervene, provide referrals and support their clients. It reinforces the importance of all aspects of the legal profession knowing about coercive control and the urgent need for training.
WLSQ hopes to see the Queensland Law Society and Bar Association adopt the following recommendations made by the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce:
- Recommendation 39: Ensure that all lawyers in Queensland have a current understanding of the nature and impact of domestic and family violence, including coercive control, the substantive and procedural law, and how to refer a client to services and support.
- Recommendation 40: Require all lawyers in Queensland to regularly complete continuing professional development (CDP) points in domestic and family violence and trauma-informed practice as a requirement for retaining their practising certificates. Recommendation 41: This training will include an understanding of local support services for both victims and perpetrators and how to refer people to them.
- Recommendation 42: Ensure that the specialist accreditation schemes for criminal law and family law include a requirement for lawyers to have an expert understanding of the nature and impact of domestic and family violence, the relevant law, the local support services and how to refer clients.
- Recommendation 47: Develop and implement a trauma-informed practice framework for practice for legal practitioners in Qld.
In addition, WLSQ looks forward to seeing the Queensland Law Society and Bar Association support Recommendation 3, the introduction of legislation to establish an independent Queensland Judicial Commission to receive and respond to complaints about judicial officers and provide professional development for judicial officers.