Sometime ago, the Queensland Government appointed former Governor, Quentin Bryce, to head a special task force to consider the issues facing Queensland in relation to domestic violence and family violence. The Special Taskforce’s Report and Recommendations into Domestic and Family Violence report , ‘Not Now, Not Ever’ – Putting an End to Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland, was published on 28 February 2015.
Following a tragic week of Domestic Violence related incidents, where two women and a young child were allegedly killed, with another woman injured in a machete attack, the Queensland Government, and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, have recently made a number of Media Statements indicating that they now intend to introduce legislative changes to respond to the Domestic and Family Violence. Many of these measures reflect the recommendations of the ‘Not Now, Not Ever’ report released in February.
The promises now made include:
- “Priority attention for anyone who attends the front counter of a police station on domestic violence issues”;
- “The need for Police supervisors to conduct mandatory quality checks on all over-the-counter requests for domestic violence orders”;
- “The urgent roll-out of 300 body-worn cameras for police on the Gold Coast, to assist in gathering evidence”;
- Fast-track implementation of a “Death Review Panel”, which will aim to identify gaps in the support available for victims of Domestic and Family Violence;
- Trial sites at Beenleigh and Logan will trial a “new, integrated response” Domestic and Family Violence, with further trial sites in rural Queensland and in an indigenous community to follow.
- Increase the maximum penalties for first-time breaches of Domestic Violence Orders to ”three years jail and subsequent breaches to up to five years jail”;
- Give victims “special witness” status when giving evidence in Court Proceedings. This will allow alleged victims of Domestic or Family Violence to not be in the same room as the alleged perpetrator, which can be a very traumatic and difficult experience for the alleged victim; and
- The recording of domestic violence-related offences on a person’s criminal record where repeat offending has occurred.
- Provision of an extra $1.2 million to support DV Connect, which provides a domestic violence crisis support service.
Some of these initiatives are already in place to an extent. For example, Section 150 of the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld) already allows a Court to consider making Orders that the victim of domestic violence can give evidence from outside of the Courtroom.
In addition, on 15 September 2015, the Honourable D’Ath MP introduced the Criminal Law (Domestic Violence) Amendment Bill 2015 (Qld) and the Coroners (Domestic and Family Violence Death Review and Advisory Board) Amendment Bill 2015 (Qld). The proposed amendments relate to Criminal Prosecutions for Domestic Violence related offences. At present, there are no substantive changes to the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld) except with respect to the potential criminal penalties applicable for breach of Domestic Violence Orders.
At Corney & Lind, we consider Domestic and Family Violence to be unacceptable, and a blind eye should never be turned to it. We are pleased that the government is taking positive steps to address the appalling rates of domestic violence in Queensland.
For more information regarding domestic violence and family violence
You should speak to an experienced family and domestic violence lawyer to assess your options. If you would like to make an appointment to discuss your situation, please call our lawyers on 07 3252 0011.
Other relevant and important contact details for Domestic and Family Violence Support are as follows:
- For emergencies, Police – 000;
- DVConnect Womensline – 1800 811 811 (24 hours, 7 days a week (Queensland));
- DVConnect Mensline – 1800 600 636 (9am to 12 midnight, 7 days a week (Queensland)); and
- Kids Helpline – 1800 551 800 (24 hours, 7 days a week (Australia)).