Queensland Government response to the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce recommendations
In response to the Queensland Government’s election commitment to legislate against coercive control, the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce (the Taskforce)—chaired by the Honourable Margaret McMurdo AC—was established in March 2021 to examine coercive control, and review both the need for a specific offence of ‘domestic violence’ and the experience of women across the criminal justice system. Find out more about the Taskforce.
The Taskforce has undertaken extensive consultation with key stakeholders across Queensland, including the judiciary, police, service providers, the legal profession, policy makers, academics and service providers. The Taskforce also met with victim-survivors and the families of victims who did not survive.
The first report—Hear her voice—was released in December 2021 and makes 89 recommendations that seek to further reform the justice and domestic and family violence (DFV) specialist service systems to ensure they keep victims safe and hold perpetrators accountable.
The Taskforce recommended the creation of a new offence to criminalise coercive control. The report made it clear that system-wide reform is required prior to the creation of this new offence.
These reforms are intended to ensure the justice system shifts to recognising and responding to DFV and coercive control as a pattern of behaviour over time in the context of a relationship.
What is the government’s response?
The Queensland Government has considered the recommendations of the first report and has released a cross-agency response. The Queensland Government is supportive or supportive-in-principle of all of the Taskforce's 89 recommendations and will now work to implement them.
It is recognised that coercive control constitutes a pattern of behaviours perpetrated against a person to create a climate of fear, isolation, intimidation and humiliation. Fundamentally it is about power and control.
The Queensland Government will progressively introduce a suite of new laws into Parliament to combat coercive control, starting with reforms to strengthen Queensland’s existing legislative responses to coercive control, to be introduced this year.
It is clear that system-wide reform is necessary before the new offences come into effect. The Queensland Government’s approach to implementation of the recommendations is broadly consistent with sequencing proposed in the Taskforce’s 4-phase plan to prioritise actions.
The Queensland Government response focuses on the following key action areas for 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.
Read more about the Queensland Government response to each individual recommendation.
Commission of Inquiry into policing responses to domestic and family violence
The Queensland Government’s response to the Taskforce’s report—as recommended by the Taskforce—includes the establishment of an independent Commission of Inquiry (the Inquiry). The Inquiry will examine policing responses to DFV to ensure full public confidence in the ability of our police to protect victims and hold perpetrators to account.
The Inquiry will run for 4 months, commencing on 30 May 2022, with a report and recommendations expected before 4 October 2022.
Her Honour Judge Deborah Richards has been appointed as the Commissioner for the Inquiry.
Read the Commission’s terms of reference that has been published in the Government Gazette.
In summary, the Commission will examine:
- whether there are any cultural issues within the Queensland Police Service that negatively affect police investigations of DFV
- if there are any cultural issues, whether they have contributed to the overrepresentation of First Nations people in the criminal justice system
- the capability, capacity and structure of the Queensland Police Service to respond to DFV, and
- the adequacy of the current conduct and complaints handling processes against police officers.
The Taskforce’s second report—focused on women’s experiences in the criminal justice system as victim-survivors of sexual violence and as accused person and offenders—is due to be released in mid-2022. Following this, the Queensland Government will consider the recommendations and release a response.
Please email PMOOWVP@justice.qld.gov.au for more information regarding the Queensland Government response.